The University of Alaska system president announced the end of several academic programs, offering another example of what I’ve been calling the queen sacrifice. This is when an academic institution, facing major challenges, cuts into the core of a campus.
In Alaska’s case, programs to be cut include: “a teacher mentoring program… a program with the University of Washington to train Alaskans to become doctors [and] a new veterinary degree partnership.”
On top of that,
More cuts will likely be announced in the weeks ahead. UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers will give a report today on efforts to prioritize dozens of programs for possible elimination or reduction.
What’s the reason for these cuts? UA is state-funded, and the state is “facing a $3.5 billion deficit.” That seems to be due to the fall of the price on oil, taxes on which play a key role in Alaska’s state revenue.
Worse, these financial and program cuts are likely to continue: “‘We see nothing to suggest that ’17 is going to be any better,’ said Gamble, who met with regents at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel.”
Rural branch campuses expect more cuts to their own budgets.
According to the UA news site, “Chancellors Rogers and Pugh updated the board on program prioritization efforts underway at UAF and UAS in preparation for difficult financial times ahead”. Indeed.
The stress of these cuts seems to have helped drive one UA campus chancellor into retirement.
What does this tell us about higher education? There are some local particulars, like the oil tax angle. But that cause neatly coincides with the effect felt in many states, of dropping state spending on education.
The program selection is unusual. I’m not sure why teacher preparation lost out, unless Alaska’s K-12 schools are seeing serious drops in student numbers. The medical and veterinary cuts don’t make much sense, as demand for medical services isn’t declining.
Let’s see what those new programs cuts target, and share our sympathies for the poor faculty, staff, and students.
(thanks to Chris Lott for providing on the ground information for this post)