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Office of the Chancellor

Important Message from Chancellor Caulfield — May 29, 2020

Dear UAS Community:

I want you to be aware of discussions about UA fiscal challenges that could have a significant impact on UAS. At a recent UA Board of Regents Audit Committee meeting, President Jim Johnsen presented a sobering picture of the impact of state funding cuts, declining enrollments, and COVID pandemic impacts on our university system. At that meeting, Board members voted to have him bring options to the next full board meeting for addressing the significant budget gap we'll likely see in FY21 and FY22. That meeting of the full board takes place virtually on June 4 and 5.

Since that meeting of the Audit Committee, the President has developed a list of potential options for future board consideration, which can be found at alaska.edu/bor/solutions. I want you to be aware that one of those potential options is a merger of UAS into one of the other two universities--either UAA or UAF. Another is to place all UA community campuses under UAS administrative leadership. The President has said that he is making no recommendations about these or other options; he is simply putting ideas on the table. It is very unlikely that the Board would take any action at its June 4-5 meeting other than ask the President to study one or more of these options in detail and bring back a plan at its September meeting.

I want you to know that, as Chancellor, I've voiced my great concern to the President about the option of a merger of UAS into another university, and have drafted a memo outlining my comments on BOR structural options for “UA Transformation" which can be found here.  I've also met with UAS faculty and staff governance group leaders as well as alumni leadership about this, who share this concern. The UAS Alumni Board of Directors has also drafted a letter outlining their concerns about the options. Moreover, I met with the UAS Juneau and Ketchikan Campus Advisory Councils this week to educate members about what these options might mean.

I would like to thank those of you who have provided public testimony this week, and would like you to know that there is an additioanl opportunity this coming Tuesday, June 2 from 4-6pm to provide public testiminy.  Guidelines for both phone-in and written public testimony can be found on the UA Board of Regents website at alaska.edu/bor/public-testimony.

For those of you who are UAS employees, I want you to be aware of these discussions even if it is unlikely that the Board of Regents will take any substantive action at its upcoming meeting to implement one or the other of them. I encourage you to consult with faculty and staff governance leaders who are engaged in discussions about these options. I'm also happy to respond to any questions you may send my way via email.

Thank you for all that you do in support of our students and our university in these challenging times.

Sincerely,

Rick Caulfield

Chancellor

Message from Chancellor Caulfield — March 28, 2020

Dear UAS Community,

This afternoon UA President Jim Johnsen issued a memo about how the University of Alaska will implement new health mandates from the State of Alaska. The two mandates include a “stay home” order from Governor Dunleavy, and the second prohibits in-state travel, with very few exceptions. Under the first mandate, the University’s efforts and infrastructure in support of Distance Education are viewed as “essential” services and work associated with that mission is permitted.

The President’s memo provides important guidance for both employees and students. For most employees, the guidance is that you should plan to work remotely. If your supervisor has directed you to work on campus, you should continue to do so unless directed otherwise. Over the next several days, the University will provide written guidance about the terms and conditions of your work on campus. If you are not working at home, you should begin doing so. If you have any questions about this, consult with your supervisor.

For students, you should continue taking your courses by distance delivery or other alternative means. If you are enrolled in one of our few on-campus classes, you should not come to campus for that class. Your instructor or an advisor will contact you soon about next steps.

All of these measures are intended to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. By following the state’s health mandates and the President’s guidance, we can all play a part in minimizing the impact of this outbreak on our communities. We will continue to keep you informed about these developments in the coming days and weeks. Thank you for your patience and perseverance.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Rick Caulfield

Message from Chancellor Caulfield — March 27, 2020

Dear UAS Community,

Consistent with guidance from UA President Jim Johnsen, I’ve forwarded to him today our UAS recommendations for FY21 budget reductions based both on expedited program reviews and reviews of all UAS administrative areas. I’ve also provided preliminary information about how UAS anticipates addressing anticipated FY22 budget reductions. You’ll find a copy of my memo summarizing these recommendations here.

These recommendations are based on a thorough review of both academic and administrative programs across our university, recommendations from deans and directors, and input from our Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (SPBAC). For more information about the process used in bringing these recommendations forward, please see the SPBAC web page.

Following further consultation in coming weeks with the President about these recommendations, we expect those related to academic programs to be presented to the Board of Regents’ Academic and Student Affairs Committee in April, and to the full Board in June.

Thanks to all who assisted in this challenging task!

Sincerely,

Chancellor Rick Caulfield

Message from Chancellor Caulfield — March 19, 2020

Dear UAS community:

Our university is dealing with several significant challenges just now, even as we continue to provide quality education for our students. The first is our response to the COVID-19 virus and second is the challenge of budget reductions for fiscal year 2021. With regard to the first, UA President Jim Johnsen provided guidance last week about precautions needed to help prevent further spread of the disease. These included shifting most face-to-face classes to alternate delivery methods and asking students living in campus housing to return home unless they receive an extension or an exception based on specific criteria. Moreover, the guidance now calls for canceling all events and gatherings of 25 people or more. Regrettably, this will include cancelling our campus commencement activities for Spring 2020. As we address this challenge, we will continue to focus on the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty. You can find more details about these actions on the UA system’s COVID-19 website: alaska.edu/coronavirus19.

The second challenge is addressing the $2.37M FY21 budget reduction target that UAS has been given as part of the university system’s compact with the Governor. To meet this expectation, the UAS Executive Cabinet has been reviewing proposals from deans and directors about cuts in both academic and administrative areas. Provost Karen Carey asked faculty last fall to complete expedited program reviews in over 15 areas, and we’ve examined Institutional Effectiveness data about program productivity over time.

Based on this assessment, Executive Cabinet has brought forward proposals for FY21 budget reductions that have been presented to our Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (SPBAC). You can find the list of proposals here. The SPBAC includes representatives from governance groups along with deans, directors, and others in UAS leadership. The SPBAC met most recently on March 17 to provide feedback about these proposed reductions. President Johnsen has asked that, as Chancellor, I provide a final list of recommendations about these cuts.

Among the proposals are elimination of the M.Ed. in Mathematics Education, Mathematics Education graduate certificates, the Educational Technology Graduate Certificate, and the Endorsement in Distance Teaching and eLearning. All of these have low enrollments and very modest numbers of graduates in recent years. In the School of Arts and Sciences, faculty are proposing a restructuring of our Environmental Science and Environmental Studies programs which will include proposing elimination of the BS in Geography and Environmental Resources and the BA in Geography, Environmental, and Outdoor Studies.

I realize that addressing these two challenges at the same time creates uncertainty and anxiety for students, staff, and faculty. However, by working together I’m confident that we’ll find ways to ensure that we continue to provide quality education to all UAS students. I appreciate your help with that effort.

Sincerely,

Rick Caulfield
Chancellor