UAA faculty pledged salary towards saving programs; the Board of Regents still cut them

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 9:01 PM AKDT
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When UAA Philosophy Professor Joel Potter started the Pledge to Save UAA Programs, he hoped it would encourage the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents to shift its cost-saving priorities.

The initiative, which consisted of professors pledging 1% of their salary towards one or more of the programs slated for deletion, was signed by 89 UAA faculty members. Potter says this is the equivalent of nearly $90,000 — enough to save the UAA MFA in Creative Writing.

“I think that we hope it will continue to be a way of highlighting a kind of disconnect between those who are providing, directly providing, the education and those who are making the final decisions,” Potter said.

UAA Professor Dr. Max Kullberg, who also signed the pledge, said that disconnect is clearly seen with how academic programs are being cut over administrative units. In documents provided to the board last month, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems found that administration costs for the entire University of Alaska are

“It comes down to where the cost savings come from,” Kullberg said. “Do you take it from excessive administration or do you take it from academic programs that are running lean and when you cut them the students suffer and the faculty leave? Bottom line is we need a Board of Regents with different priorities.”

Last week, the Board of Regents voted to discontinue nearly 40 programs systemwide including the only

in the state. This decision was made after a public comment period where Potter and several others testified on behalf of these programs.

In response to Potter during the public testimony period, Regent Karen Perdue cited concerns about the unequal distribution of salary increases.

“I just want to broaden this beyond the great donation that you’re leading to a broader conversation about the salary increases and the equity of applying those or not applying those across our university system,” Perdue said. “And that I think is a subject the regents will have to be wrestling with.”

Abel Bult-Ito, the president of the union that represents over 1,000 faculty members throughout the university system, said a 1% salary increase had been negotiated between administration back in December. But once the UAA programs were up for deletion, Potter and Kullberg said they would rather forgo their increase to save programs.

“One of the reasons I started the pledge is because I didn’t feel good about taking a 1% increase when I knew my colleagues were going to be losing their jobs,” Potter said.

The Board of Regents also voted to discontinue the UAA bachelor of arts in theatre, UAA’s bachelor of science in environment and society, UAF’s sociology degree, UAF’s bachelor of arts in geography and several other

Channel 2 reached out to a university spokesperson for comment from the regents but did not hear back Tuesday.

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