UAF to cut $3 million from 46 academic programs
In a late-Friday afternoon email sent to all students and staff, UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers said due to legislative funding cutbacks and enrollment decreases, “it is unlikely that we will be able to sustain all of our programs and services next year.”
Forty-six academic programs are under special review by the recommendation of the Planning and Budget Committee based on low enrollment, decreased enrollment and low graduation rates.
Even if the state provides the same funding levels for UAF, a budget gap of $14 million is expected for next year.
Provost Susan Henrichs is tasked with overseeing $3 million in cuts for academic programs under review by reducing programs, combining departments or eliminating degrees.
During the review process, each program will have to make the argument that its continuation is crucial to UAF.
Though the programs under review are there because of enrollment, the university will asses the value of the departments to UAF and the community based on more than just number of students, according to Rogers. The process will involve review by a faculty committee, a dean and director committee and the Chancellor’s Cabinet. “It’s going to be a discussion about values as well as numbers,” said Rogers. For example, the Yupik language program has a low number of graduates, but, “if we don’t offer Yupik at UAF, who else in the world will?” he said.
Some departments may be combined with others. For example, the Journalism Department could combine with the Theatre and Film programs according to Journalism Department Chair Brian O’Donoghue.
Concerns are also being raised that programs will be condensed and offered at just one of the UA campuses.
Rogers addressed the concern specifically with the UAF School of Management.
“Some programs we need to offer at two or three universities in the region,” Rogers said. Many students taking business classes work full or part time while they’re working towards their degree. Moving the department to another campus would prevent students working jobs in the community an opportunity to earn a degree.
Determinations are made to spend more money on certain programs. For example, the engineering building gets it funding from the capital budget, so it’s not from the same revenue stream as academic programs. However, heating and lighting the building comes from the legislative budget, which is the same budget that helps pay for academic programs. So we have made a decision to put more money into certain departments.