Alaska Native leaders offer alternatives to proposed university merger

Alaska Native organizations in Southeast are proposing alternatives to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents’ controversial option to merge the University of Alaska Southeast with one of the other UA campuses.

Native leaders from Sealaska, Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida sent a letter to select regents this week.

They’re asking for the option to establish University of Alaska Southeast as the administrative hub for rural community campuses. They say a more centralized campus in the region can increase overall enrollment.

It could also expand options for students and streamline program and course offerings. 

Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl said the proposed merger would not result in the financial savings the university system is seeking.

Another option is to transfer UAS to a tribal college in the region.

Sealaska Board of Directors Chair Joe Nelson said the Southeast community deserves university leadership that is “committed to this native place.”

The board of regents are meeting to discuss options on Thursday and Friday.

They’re also holding public testimony by phone on Tuesday from 4 – 6 p.m. at 1-866-726-0757.

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