UAA unveils FY16 budget decisions to overcome $13 million shortfall

Plan protects academic programs; results include 17 layoffs and centralizing IT, HR

Aug. 5, 2015

Today the University of Alaska Anchorage unveils its plan to overcome a $13 million shortfall for FY16. UAA’s decisions will have serious effects on and off campus, but still allow UAA to meet the core needs of its students and Alaska’s workforce.

The budget shortfall was anticipated, and is largely due to a decrease in operating funds from the state. Although 203 positions are affected by the university’s fiscal plan, layoffs were contained to 17 employees through strategies that included leaving vacant positions unfilled, consolidating jobs, and requiring furloughs for top administration.

Program changes were made based on UAA’s two-year self-evaluation, which transformed or eliminated outdated and marginal programs. For example, in the computer science field, UAA students prefer a bachelor’s degree over a master’s degree. The university had zero students enrolled in that master’s program. So UAA is keeping the bachelor’s and phasing out the master’s. In the case of students who are studying toward a degree that is being phased out, advisors will work with students to ensure they still graduate with their desired degree.

Community campuses in Kodiak, Kenai, Mat-Su and Valdez absorbed $1 million of the shortfall. On the Anchorage campus, academic functions shoulder about one-third of the shortfall at UAA ($3.4 million), while support services account for about two-thirds ($8.6 million). Those services include administration, athletics, admissions, financial services and facility maintenance. Despite employees’ best efforts, as they take on additional duties, students will be affected by lengthened staff response times.

Although it has been challenging, the process of understanding every single service and course offering has helped UAA tighten its belt strategically, and for the long term. Those new, permanent efficiencies include centralizing information technology, human resources and procurement.

“I want to reassure you that UAA remains a vibrant and resilient university,” said UAA Chancellor Tom Case. “Our commitment to our students and employees - as well as to our incredible state - remains optimistic and forward-looking.”

UAA enters fall 2015 with about 200 areas of study available to incoming students, including a new Doctorate of Nursing Practice, the first doctorate offered exclusively through UAA.