Monday, July 24, 2017

University feeling budget crunch: Higher education could be compromised by Legislature's inaction - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

University leadership, used to being a target in some quarters of the Legislature even outside of lean times, has accepted that and is working to put into place UA President Jim Johnsen’s Strategic Pathways plan. That plan, meant to focus campuses around core strengths, is a blueprint for managing budget reductions in a way that causes as little harm as possible to the goal of educating the state’s future leaders. In the eyes of some, Strategic Pathways is already going too far in its elimination of lower-enrollment programs and centralization of particular majors at one campus or another. The debate about whether Strategic Pathways is draconian in its changes is, however, academic — no pun intended. Cuts to the university have already reached the level that even the elements of the plan may not be enough on their own to address funding shortfalls, resulting in cuts to athletic and academic scholarships and the reduction of hundreds of faculty and staff positions. For four years, the university has endured budget cuts as the state has sought ways to close its budget deficit.

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