Chancellor's Commitment to Budget Transparency

by Michelle Saport  |   

Dear UAA Community,

As you know, at the Board of Regents (BOR) meeting on July 22, the regents instructed President Johnsen to provide more detailed plans on two options for the structure of the University of Alaska system: Option 2 (current structure with smaller, more focused universities) or Option 3 (one university with one accreditation managed by the statewide office). The president, in turn, directed chancellors to provide campus plans under Option 2 by 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 25. The president has indicated UAA's portion of the state unrestricted general funds (UGF) reduction will be $50 million.

Today I write to share three documents we will be working from in submitting information to the president. Please note these are not final decisions. These documents represent concepts and preliminary planning for a large budget cut. It is time to share these more broadly across the UAA community for input.

I remain fully committed to shared governance and a collegial and transparent process guiding reductions at UAA. I apologize for the quick timeframe. This was not my intention, but is driven by the BOR meeting schedule. Please note the regents intend to provide guidance on a preferred structure only. We will still have some time for more detailed planning and implementation that will allow for greater community input.

The basic planning documents we are sharing include:

Mission-Focus exercise A document that outlines how UAA might focus in light of a significant budget reduction. These are not final decisions, but a concept for input.

UAA FY20 basic budget scenario A spreadsheet that includes cuts already taken (mostly administrative and facilities) and proposed additional cuts to meet the $50 million level required by the president.

You will note there is a line for academic program reductions. Regrettably, it would be impossible to meet our budget reduction target without program reductions. Though I will make final decisions, we will seek meaningful input. The Mission-Focus document will help guide some of these decisions, but I also propose the following criteria to guide decisions:

  • Enrollment
  • Cost structure/net revenue
  • Completion rate
  • Workforce demand
  • Alignment with mission
  • Interdependencies with other programs
  • Special circumstances (e.g., donor support/endowments, special facilities, etc.)

Guiding Principles for Budget Decisions Early on in this process, we developed and shared Guiding Principles for Budget Decisions. These are posted on the chancellor's website. I share them with you again.

Again, please note none of these documents represent final decisions. We cannot make sound final decisions without your input. I anticipate being required to submit more specific program reduction decisions at the September 2019 BOR meeting.

Call to action Here are some things you can do. Continue to advocate for the university on your personal time by contacting your elected officials. You may also share written testimony with the Board of Regents. Please provide us with your reactions, thoughts and ideas about these guiding documents and other ways to meet our budget target by emailing

Final thoughts We realize some of the information and concepts revealed in these documents are likely to make many of you uncomfortable as we all confront the realities of our current situation. None of us ever envisioned a world where we would need to make reductions of this magnitude. I weigh your discomfort with this information against my determination to provide transparency and timely, accurate information so you can make informed decisions about your future. It is time for us to work collectively to address our current situation and to position UAA for the future.

Very sincerely yours,

Cathy Sandeen UAA Chancellor

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