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UA Board of Regents backtracks from controversial UAS, UAF merger plan

University of Alaska Southeast. (08/05/2020)
University of Alaska Southeast. (08/05/2020)(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 4:53 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted to backtrack from a controversial plan that could have seen the University of Alaska Southeast merge with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During a meeting held on Wednesday afternoon, the regents voted to remove language from a motion that called for a conceptual merger plan. Instead, the new plan highlights the possibility of investigating other broad structural changes and cuts.

In June, the regents had voted to study a merger of UAS and UAF to be presented to the board in October. The idea of a merger received stiff opposition from stakeholders across Southeast.

“I’m considering that’s off the table,” said Dr. Karen Carey, the interim chancellor at UAS. “There is no way that they can get a report done by October.”

The University of Alaska is facing difficult fiscal challenges. The Board of Regents signed an agreement with Gov. Mike Dunleavy in 2019 to make $70 million in cuts over three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to an enrollment drop across the state.

Budget cuts are coming, Carey said, but UAS will continue operating as its own university.

“I’m sure there’s a sigh of relief going on across all of Southeast that this is off the table,” Carey said. “I’m going to tell the faculty and students that UAS will be open, UAS will be open for a long, long time.”

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