Strategic Pathways update – July 28, 2016

by Michelle Saport  |   

As the university prepares for students and faculty to return to campus, the seven phase I Strategic Pathways review teams, which began their work in mid-June, are working toward an Aug. 17 completion date for options to be presented to the summit team.

The three academic and four administrative programs under review include the schools of management, engineering and education, and the administrative areas of information technology, research administration, procurement and intercollegiate athletics.

At the most recent meetings July 25-26, President Jim Johnsen told the review team members that he is grateful for the time they've invested. "I've been very impressed by the commitment you have all made to bring us to where we are today," he said. "The teams are doing their best and I appreciate that, and I realize this is hard, especially when an option on the table may impact you personally. When that happens, I ask you to remember why we are here, to think anew about how to strengthen the University of Alaska in its service to Alaska and its people."

President Johnsen reminded the review teams of some critical statistics, including:

  • UA is responsible for 85 percent of the higher education in Alaska.
  • By 2025, 65 percent of Alaska's workforce will require some post-secondary education (we are now at 37 percent).
  • Of 100 average ninth-graders in Alaska, just five will graduate with a bachelor's degree from UA after 10 years. Our economy needs 25.
  • Alaska imports 70 percent of its new teachers every year from outside the state, at an annual recruiting cost of $17 million.
  • Alaska ranks near the bottom of all the states in the New Economy Index and in degree completion rates.
  • In terms of market share, the percentage of Alaskans in higher education has declined 32 percent since 1980, from 6.3 percent to 4.3 percent.
  • Alaska has the highest percentage of its population, of any state, with some higher education but no degree.
  • Yet we rank No. 3 in per-capita state support for higher education, No. 2 in state appropriations and total revenue per student FTE, even after adjusting for our high cost of living.

"I share these statistics with you not to discourage you, but to charge you up," he said. "These challenges are opportunities!"

The seven working groups, comprised of UA faculty, staff, students and community leaders from across the state, are "working together to achieve goals that are bigger than any one person, any one of our campuses, or any one of our towns," Johnsen said.

The groups will spend the next three weeks fine-tuning and sharpening their respective options, along with the pros and cons associated with those options. Select team members will present options to the summit team on Aug. 17. President Johnsen will then meet with campus staff, faculty and students to discuss the Strategic Pathways outcomes and options, and present the recommended options at the Board of Regents' Sept. 15-16 meeting in Juneau.

Phase 2 of Strategic Pathways will commence this fall. Phase 3 reviews will commence this spring and be completed by the end of the fiscal year. The draft subject areas included in phase 2 and phase 3 are in the final stages of review.

"By this time next year, when we are celebrating our 100th anniversary, thanks to you we will have completed this comprehensive, inclusive review and be well on the way to implementation of how the university can best serve our state for the next 100 years," Johnsen said.

Additional resources and information Learn more about Strategic Pathways at President Johnsen welcomes feedback through email ( or through the feedback form at

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