University of Alaska’s regents eliminate dozens of programs, impacting nearly 700 students

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 12:57 PM AKDT
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The University of Alaska Board of Regents has eliminated

across the University of Alaska system during its Friday meeting.

The eliminated programs will directly impact over 650 students, 30 faculty and save close to $4 million. Faculty members say hundreds of other students who take courses from eliminated programs will also be impacted.

The purpose of discontinuing the 39 programs plus restructuring four others is to save

as part of a spending reduction plan signed with Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

As part of rules from the university’s regional accreditation agency, “teach out” plans need to be implemented as the programs are cut. Some students will have up to four years to finish their degrees.

Regent Cachet Garrett sought to have all the programs set for elimination debated and voted on separately. After a long debate, 13 programs were voted on individually by the regents, the remaining programs were eliminated in a single vote.

Heather Batchelder, the Faculty Alliance vice-chair, said that faculty senates across the system’s three universities had opposed cutting those 13 programs. The programs debated individually include:

  • Atmospheric Sciences (MS and PhD) at UAF
  • Certificate in Ethnobotany at UAF
  • Certificate in Environmental Studies at UAF
  • BA and BS in Geography at UAF
  • BS and MS in Geological Engineering at UAF
  • Sociology BA and BS at UAA
  • Environment and Society BS at UAF
  • MFA in Creative Writing at UAA
  • Welding & Non destructive Testing AAS at UAA, UAA and UAS
  • Theatre BA at UAA
  • BBA in Management Information Systems at UAA

After roll-call votes, virtually all of the 13 programs were then eliminated by large majority votes of the Board of Regents.

"It's so disheartening for me to encounter students who feel so lost, or students who cry, because they don’t feel valued anymore. That is the real loss to me," said Dr. Jill Crosby, who is the dance program coordinator at UAA.

Crosby said the theatre program offered in Anchorage is unique across Alaska and is big loss for the state. She labels the four-year teach out plans as "a myth," faculty will be whittled down in a much shorter time frame and students will be forced to leave.

Two programs in Atmospheric Sciences at UAF were saved with Chancellor Daniel White saying they are important for studying climate change. The programs will be reviewed again for possible elimination in January.

The Geological Engineering programs at UAF are also set to be restructured rather than eliminated.

Due to the vote by the regents, there will be no dedicated sociology program offered across the University of Alaska system. Regent Gloria O’Neill said the University of Alaska is now the only public state university system across the country not offering a sociology degree.

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