Forty-six flavors of potential cuts

by Anna Stitt

Sun Star

There are 46 programs under review for either elimination or downsizing. On Dec. 5 these “on the chopping block” departments and programs turned in reports making their plea. In an ideal world there would never be a need to restrict resources or to close the doors on anyone or group that seeks betterment. Yet, that’s the reality that UAF faces. Suck it in and tighten your belt UAF, fiscal year ’16 is looking lean for the UA.

In the resource rich state of Alaska you may find yourself asking, “where is all the revenue going?” It certainly seems like the state of Alaska has left the university – students, faculty and staff – to fend for themselves.

Why does any of this matter? Well, future students of UAF may never ponder this question and many others if the special committee assigned to review these programs decide to ax the philosophy department. What will they think of this in the future? A UAF stuent might not know any of it ever existed if they cut the journalism program. Then again maybe, it will just be downsizing, and joining of departments because the office administrators don’t have enough to do. Actually, they do, and cutting those jobs will make it that much harder for students to find answers and help.

With a critical deficit in the budget – some 3 million dollars needs to be cut on the education line of the budget alone.

It’s helpful to have a general idea of the demographics which make up the 11 Board of Regent members – members who compiled the review list, members who are appointed, not elected. Over half of them are business owners and/or have their degrees in business, a few of them are engineers and one of those engineers is working towards a grad degree in business. Nearly a third of them are graduates of law school and one whole member was an elementary school teacher. Bless her heart. This is the generous board that wanted to give President Gamble a bonus at the time of a budget crunch. Which begs the question: where did they study business?

Apparently they know how to isolate and make lists – list that are full of programs which have low graduation rates and low or diminishing enrollment rates.

Does UAF need more sociologists? Well, yes actually, but we can’t all do the same things. We need the diversity of interests and educational programs that create the stimulating environment where new ideas are born and problems are solved. Permanent or semi-permanent changes are often made out of these kinds of cuts. Decisions made when funding is a temporary setback, a major setback but still only temporary.

Blaming the Board of Regents isn’t really the answer. They are just trying to keep the ship afloat in the best way they know how. The University of Alaska has quite a few holes to plug, but with few resources to plug them. This is kind of deep, but people concerned with money and numbers are, (wait for it) concerned with money and numbers. That’s their job, and they do it. Yet, sometimes, the numbers are just plain ignorant. Numbers can’t easily tell you how comforting it is for students from rural Alaska to come to UAF and find a community of Yup’ik or Inupiaq speakers or how much it means to have a place to preserve, learn and master their native tongue. Or what it means to a linguist to have the opportunity to study one of these indigenous Alaskan languages.

Maybe the real answer is drumming up more money for the university. You can contact your representative about encouraging a review of the State’s budget about in regards to university funding.

In Fairbanks you can call or email:

David Guttenberg: Phone: 907-456-8172 Email: Representative.David.Guttenberg@akleg.gov

Pete Higgins: Phone: 907-452-6084         Email: Representative.Pete.Higgins@akleg.gov

Scott Kawasaki: Phone: 907-456-7423     Email: Representative.Scott.Kawasaki@akleg.gov

Tammie Wilson: Phone: 907-451-2723    Email: Representative.Tammie.Wilson@akleg.gov

Steve Thompson: Phone: 907-452-1088  Email: Representative.Steve.Thompson@akleg.gov

 

A complete list of representatives and contact info is found at: house.legis.state.ak.us

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