Aug 5 budget and transition planning update

Aug 5 budget and transition planning update

Well, good morning. This is Jim Johnson, president of the University of Alaska. I hope you all had a good weekend. On a couple of walks through the woods this weekend that strong cranberry smell was in the air, and it’s a sign of of August. And really, it’s a sign of September and the fall time when we get out in the woods, and we get out in this beautiful country and harvest the riches of Alaska. I’m here this morning to talk with you a little bit about the budget, and about the structure and, and some thoughts I have for going forward. With respect to the budget, the capital budget has been passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor; and that’s on his desk right now. In that capital budget are a couple of important things for us. One is funding for the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Alaska Education Grant. And it looks like those are going to get supported by the governor. So that’s a good thing for our students. Now the second thing is there’s seven and a half million dollars in accrued deferred maintenance and two and a half million dollars in it for the Alaska Earthquake Center — pretty important of course for Alaska. We’re hoping those two things survive the governor’s veto pen. Well, there’s also an operating supplemental budget. And that hasn’t been transmitted yet to the governor. I expect it to be this week. And that’s got a hundred and ten million back in for the University of Alaska. That’s still a twenty five million dollar cut from last year, but it’s a whole lot better than $135 million dollar cut, right. So that’ll be transmitted to the governor this week. We’ve been meeting very actively with his team. In fact, I met with the Governor and his new Chief of Staff on Friday to try to advocate as strongly as possible for him not to veto that number. We also have a lot of community folks who are really connected with the Governor and his Chief of Staff, and they’re advocating strongly on our behalf. So more to come on that. There is still clearly uncertainty about what the budget will be, but we’re doing our very best to make sure that we get as much state funding as possible. On the structure side of things, we got direction from the Board of Regents last week to consolidate administrative services across the university system; to consolidate duplicative academic programs and units across the system — research institutes as well — and then also, to put together a plan for a single accreditation. And that will all be considered by the Board of Regents at its September meeting. The planning work for those, for the restructuring, is going to really kick off in earnest this week and over the next several weeks. First thing up is a survey. We’ve contracted with an expert surveyor — social scientist — to conduct a multi-stakeholder survey. So it’ll be available to faculty, staff, students and members of the community, and alumni, and our business partners, to weigh-in on their interests, and what they think we ought to organize around as we build a new University of Alaska with streamlined administration and more resources going into academics and student services; with programs and courses available all across the state. So there’ll be a lot of work here in the coming weeks. Remember the Board of Regents also established a subcommittee of Regents to check in with us and oversee the structural work. And they’ll be meeting with us informally, but then they’ll have a formal meeting on the 28th of August where we’ll review with them where we are at that point. We’ll be posting the materials for the September meeting on September 5th. That’ll be time for public testimony the following week — I believe it’ll be on the 9th — and then that sets us up for that important meeting of the Board of Regents on September 12th. In closing this morning, I just want to again, thank you all for your patience. Thank you for your hard work. We have just huge uncertainty at this point still about the budget, still about the actual real structure of the university going forward. But in the midst of that uncertainty I want to remind you of our certainties. And our certainties are our commitment to each other, to our students, to our mission on behalf of the state — all across Alaska. While we don’t know again what we’re going to look like next year or the year after, I can tell you for sure we’re going to be here, and we’re going to be doing our tremendous, valuable work — transformational work for Alaskans — next year, and the year after, and the year after. And I hope you stick with us as we, as we move forward. So, thank you. Have a great week and I’ll touch base with you in a week. Take care.

One thought on “Aug 5 budget and transition planning update

  1. Thanks for your leadership and particularly your open communications; a strong contrast to the last time the state pulled the budgetary rug from under us in '87.
    Please rotate that globe on your desk so we can see Alaska as the center of the world it is.

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