UPDATE 2/17/2016: The draft Strategic Pathways framework can be found at alaska.edu/pathways. Input and ideas may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitted through an anonymous online form accessible via a link on the pathways web page. Please take a minute to add your voice to the conversation.
Following a two-day work session with the University of Alaska Board of Regents, UA President Jim Johnsen has announced his framework to restructure the university so it will be more streamlined and efficient in the years ahead. While still a working draft, the framework calls for establishing a lead campus for specific degree programs, reducing redundancies, cutting costs and strengthening areas of excellence for focused growth.
“Each main campus – Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau – will focus its research, teaching and service on its unique strengths, capabilities, advantages and opportunities.” Johnsen said. “The ‘lead campus’ model will eliminate duplication and strengthen degree programs, reduce duplicative administration and put a greater emphasis on delivery of courses through technology.”
For example, as the university’s metropolitan campus, UAA could focus on workforce development in such important fields as nursing, and lead research in the economic and policy sciences. As the leading research campus, UAF could focus on research and workforce development in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. As the public liberal arts campus, UAS could focus on interdisciplinary studies and strong training programs to support the mining and marine industries. While each campus would lead with its respective areas of emphasis, all would offer a wide variety of other classes on campus or via distance technology to ensure all students are prepared to be critical thinkers and good citizens of the state.
“While this will have impacts on students, communities and university employees, restructuring will preserve excellent and diverse program options across the system and respond to the unprecedented reductions in our budget,” Johnsen said. “The Board of Regents and university leadership believe this is the best way to use increasingly scarce resources to meet the needs of students and our state.”
The framework was an outgrowth of a planning meeting held late last week with the Board of Regents and university executives to discuss ideas and concepts that would make the university stronger, more cost effective and better able to meet the educational needs of Alaska’s students and the state’s needs for a trained workforce.
General Education Requirements (GERs), liberal arts and humanities courses, developmental education classes, and career and technical certificate and degree programs will be available broadly at all campuses. The university will continue to enable student transfers and flexibility through common calendars, common GERs and academic courses. In addition, there will be greater consistency in administrative systems and educational technologies across the university.
“President Johnsen’s strategic framework boldly addresses the many challenges facing our university and our state,” said Jo Heckman, chair of the Board of Regents. “In these difficult fiscal times, it is critical that we clearly define the university in a way that ensures excellence, highlights and strengthens our campuses and eliminates redundancy. The Regents unanimously support President Johnsen’s framework and look forward to more details at our February meeting.”
The next steps include developing a planning and implementation timeline to address the challenges this restructuring requires and engaging the university’s key internal and external stakeholders. Implementation of the plan will begin in 2016 but is expected to require several years to complete.