University of Alaska regents no longer considering merger
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Board of Regents are no longer considering a proposed merger of the University of Alaska Southeast and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, officials said.
The board unanimously voted Wednesday to rescind the resolution made in June that directed the administration to consider the merger, the Juneau Empire reported.
The proposal was shelved after pressure from groups across the state and criticism of the merger played a part in a push by the faculty senate for then-President Jim Johnsen to resign. He stepped down in June.
Regent Darroll Hargrave, who strongly opposed the proposal, said there was overwhelming public sentiment against it.
“I believe I have received only one letter in support of consolidation from one state administrator in Fairbanks,” Hargrave said.
Regent Dale Anderson, who introduced the merger proposal, said it was only a suggestion and warned that university finances are in trouble because of plunge in state revenue due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus. The state university system expects a budget deficit of roughly $20 million this year, he said.
The University of Alaska Southeast praised the decision.
“UAS values its current, robust, and rich collaborations in Southeast Alaska, and looks forward to expanding as appropriate to the needs of our region and the State,” the college said in a statement.
In the same vote, regents passed a resolution that kept restructuring and consolidation options available for the future.
The board also told interim President Pat Pitney to work with university officials to analyze structural changes and enrollment directives, work on the fisheries and ocean sciences programs in Juneau, and to collaborate with industry, communities and tribal organizations.
The regents also passed an amended motion to reduce costs across the university system.
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