University of Alaska OKs reduced spending plan, cutting jobs and programs

Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 11:01 AM AKDT
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At a time of belt-tightening across the state, the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted for a spending plan that cuts $15 million from the prior year's budget.

The $909.8 million budget, approved today in Anchorage, is expected to lead to the loss of 579 positions and the elimination of three programs. Another 10 programs will be suspended.

UA officials say programs won't be deleted or suspended immediately, saying there is a process for the phase out, and that board policy directs the process since it affects students and faculty.

Of the job cuts, 341 involve regular positions and 238 were temporary jobs. The cuts include:

• 172 layoffs.

• 160 reductions through attrition and vacancies.

• 247 non-renewal of term contract.

The 2017 university system spending plan includes $335 million in money from the cash-strapped state. Along with the $15 million dollar reduction from the state, University President Jim Johnsen says the University of Alaska must also account for an additional loss of $25 million consumed by health costs, contractual salary increases, utility costs and facility operations.

For months, university system officials had planned the budget expecting to receive $300 million from the state. That changed on Monday, when lawmakers in Juneau allocated $335 million to the University of Alaska.

Here’s how most of that extra $35 million that UA hadn’t planned on receiving will use the funds in 2017.

• $9 million will be used to prevent further tuition increases in 2017.

• $10 million will be used for deferred maintenance at UAA, UAF and UAS.

• $3 million will cover the annual debt service and operating costs of the unfinished UAF Engineering Building.

As for the three main universities which make up the UA system, here's how reduced funding will impact each school.

University of Alaska Anchorage:

UAA’s 2017 budget will be reduced by $25.2 million from 2016, and the school will lose 209 positions.

- 110 layoffs.

- 31 attrition/vacant.

- 68 Non-renewal of term contract.

Nine programs offered through UAA have been suspend:

- Environmental Regulations and Permitting Graduate Certificate.

- Kodiak College AAS Computer Systems Technology

- Kodiak College AAS Computer Information and Office Systems

- Kodiak College Construction Technology and Industrial Safety Support Undergraduate Certificate

- Master of Civil Engineering

- Master of Science in Arctic Engineering

- Graduate Certificate in coastal, Ocean, and Port Engineering

- Graduate Certificate in Earthquake Engineering

- Bachelor in Music in Performance

University of Alaska Fairbanks:

UAF will be hit the hardest by reductions in 2017, losing an estimated 389 positions, and $38.3 million in funds.

- 105 layoffs.

- 50 attrition/vacant.

- 177 Non-renewal of term contract.

Eliminated UAF programs include Masters of Electrical Engineering, Bachelors of Arts Russian Studies and Theater. Economics Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Business Administration have been suspended.

University of Alaska Southeast:

UAS will see its 2017 funds reduced by $6.3 million, losing 23 positions.

- 7 layoffs.

- 14 attrition/vacant.

- 2 Non-renewal of term contract.

Background: Since 2014, the UA general fund has decreased by more than $42 million. In that same time, 460 positions have been eliminated, services have been reduced, and programs have been suspended. Those numbers do not take into account cuts and layoffs in FY 2017.