University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen speaks at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, where Gov. Mike Dunleavy, back left, announced he would support a $25 million cut this year to the University of Alaska system. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier endorsed. In background at right is Dunleavy’s spokesman Matt Shuckerow. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen speaks at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, where Gov. Mike Dunleavy, back left, announced he would support a $25 million cut this year to the University of Alaska system. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier endorsed. In background at right is Dunleavy’s spokesman Matt Shuckerow. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Dunleavy signs ‘step-down’ compact with University of Alaska

Plan will introduce cuts over three years rather than one

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and University of Alaska Board of Regents Chair John Davies signed an agreement Tuesday afternoon that would reduce the university’s budget a total of $70 million over three years instead the $136 million in one year as originally proposed.

The agreement was a result of negotiations between the governor’s administration and the Board of Regents which ended in both sides agreeing to a number of commitments.

On the university side, the Regents agreed to a number of cost-cutting and streamlining measures such as the reduction of administrative overheads and increased focus on remote-access, or online, education.

Dunleavy’s office agreed to support “budgeted amounts agreed upon,” and the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grant programs, according to the text of the agreement.

“A $70 million reduction, even over three years is a serious reduction. It will require careful review and streamlining of administrative structure, academic programs, and services to ensure that resources are focused on student access and achievement,” University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen said. “But by restoring the legislature’s appropriated funding for this fiscal year, and by spreading reductions out over the next two years, the required restructuring can be done more methodically, with less impact on students.”

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen speaks at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, where Gov. Mike Dunleavy, back left, announced he would support a $25 million cut this year to the University of Alaska system. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier endorsed. In background at right is Dunleavy’s spokesman Matt Shuckerow. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen speaks at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, where Gov. Mike Dunleavy, back left, announced he would support a $25 million cut this year to the University of Alaska system. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier endorsed. In background at right is Dunleavy’s spokesman Matt Shuckerow. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

The governor does not have power to appropriate funds for the university; only the Legislature can do that. However, the governor can veto items where he sees fit. According to the agreement, the governor will support the university’s proposed budget so long as the Board of Regents maintain a commitment to cost reductions and and revenue increases.

The agreement states that the Regents will report to the governor’s office and the legislature each year for three years in order to demonstrate the commitment to the strategic goals and 11 enumerated priorities.

Among the priorities stated in the agreement are, operating cost reductions, administrative overhead reductions, growth in monetization of university assets, research income increases and technology investments to lower costs and increase access.

Davies said that while this agreement still constituted a significant reduction for the university, the supplemental operating budget provided, “much more certainty and confidence for our students, staff, faculty and the communities we serve.”

University of Alaska Board of Regents chairman John Davies speaks at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, where Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced he would support a $25 million cut this year to the University of Alaska system. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier endorsed. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

University of Alaska Board of Regents chairman John Davies speaks at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, where Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced he would support a $25 million cut this year to the University of Alaska system. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier endorsed. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

On July 31, the Board of Regents voted to transition the university to a single accreditation model which would create a much more slimmed down version of the current university system.

Johnsen maintains that model is the best option for maintaining the university’s focus on student programs and providing the quality education the state needs.

“As an educator, a father, and a graduate of the University of Alaska, I believe in a strong university,” Dunleavy said. “I also believe we must balance state support for the UA system with the very serious fiscal situation we face today. This agreement, which comes after extensive conversations and work with the university, is an honest attempt at balancing both realities.”

Several legislators responded to the announcement with mixed emotions. In a letter sent out by the House Majority, several lawmakers said that they were pleased to see the funds restored, but that they intend to ensure UA receives adequate funding.

“The prospect of removing $135 million from the University of Alaska budget created an unnecessary crisis,” Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, said in the statement. “While I am relieved to see a level of certainty for the university system, the possibility of $70 million in additional cuts in the coming years is troubling and needs to be closely examined.”

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, said he was concerned by the governor seeming to act as an appropriator, something which only the legislature is allowed to do.

“While I am supremely grateful that the University of Alaska will not face such drastic cuts today,” Edgmon said, “these vetoes never should have happened in the first place. I remain concerned about the potential impacts of future reductions, and I firmly stand by the legislature’s role as the appropriating body.”


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


University of Alaska Board of Regents chairman John Davies, left, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy sign an agreement, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska, that will spread $70 million in cuts to the university system over three years. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier proposed for this year. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

University of Alaska Board of Regents chairman John Davies, left, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy sign an agreement, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska, that will spread $70 million in cuts to the university system over three years. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier proposed for this year. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Dunleavy signs ‘step-down’ compact with University of Alaska

University of Alaska Board of Regents chairman John Davies, left, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy sign an agreement, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska, that will spread $70 million in cuts to the university system over three years. That is a sharp reversal from the $135 million cut Dunleavy earlier proposed for this year. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

More in News

Coast Guardsmen and state employees load the Together Tree bound for the Alaska Governor’s Mansion on a truck on Nov. 29, 2021 after the Coast Guard Cutter Elderberry transported the tree from Wrangell. (USCG photo / Petty Officer 2nd Class Lexie Preston)
Governor’s mansion tree arrives in Juneau

No weather or floating lines could stay these Coast Guardsmen about their task.

The Kenai Community Library health section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. The Kenai City Council voted during its Oct. 20 meeting to postpone the legislation approving grant funds after members of the community raised concerns about what books would be purchased with the money, as well as the agency awarding the grant. The council will reconsider the legislation on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council to consider library grant again

The council earlier voted to postpone the legislation after concerns were raised about what books would be purchased.

EPA logo
Alaska Native group to receive EPA funds for clean water projects

The agency is handing out $4.3 million to participating tribal organizations nationwide.

fund
Study: PFD increases spending on kids among low-income families

New study looks at PFD spending by parents

Image via the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Nikiski soil treatment facility moves ahead

The facility, located at 52520 Kenai Spur Highway, has drawn ire from community residents.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Rep. Chris Kurka, R-Wasilla, leaves the chambers of the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday, March 19, 2021, after an hour of delays concerning the wording on his mask. On Monday, Kurka announced he was running for governor in 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Wasilla rep announces gubernatorial bid

Kurka said he was motivated to run by a sense of betrayal from Dunleavy.

The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson star is Illuminated on the side of Mount Gordon Lyon on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, just east of Anchorage, Alaska, in observation of the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. A crew from the base went to light the 300-foot wide holiday star, but found that only half of the star’s 350 or so lights were working, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Airmen from the 773rd Civil Engineer Squadron Electrical Shop haven’t been able to figure out what was wrong and repair the lights, but they plan to work through the week, if necessary, base spokesperson Erin Eaton said. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Avalanche delays holiday tradition in Alaska’s largest city

ANCHORAGE — A holiday tradition in Alaska’s largest city for more than… Continue reading

AP Photo/Gregory Bull,File
In this Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, photo, George Chakuchin, left, and Mick Chakuchin look out over the Bering Sea near Toksook Bay, Alaska. A federal grant will allow an extensive trail system to connect all four communities on Nelson Island, just off Alaska’s western coast. The $12 million grant will pay to take the trail the last link, from Toksook Bay, which received the federal money, to the community of Mertarvik, the new site for the village of Newtok. The village is moving because of erosion.
Federal grant will connect all 4 Nelson Island communities

BETHEL — A federal grant will allow an extensive trail system to… Continue reading

Most Read