Strategic Pathways

FAQ: Strategic Pathways Framework

Our FAQ page will be updated throughout the process as the proposals, processes and potential impacts are further researched and developed.

Why did the university decide to pursue Strategic Pathways?

The concept behind Strategic Pathways was considered by the Board of Regents during a retreat held in January. Regents and university executives took a hard look at the state’s unmet needs for higher education, assessed the university’s strengths and capabilities, and discussed options for how the university could become stronger, more cost effective and more accessible to people all across Alaska. The Board of Regents and university leadership believe this is the best way to use increasingly scarce resources to meet the needs of students and our state.

Now, more than ever, as our budget continues to be cut, we must find creative ways to serve our important purpose as cost effectively as possible. Strategic Pathways is the framework we will use to focus on and strengthen our service to the Alaskans.

Restructuring will impact students, university employees and communities. Ultimately, however, it will preserve and even grow excellent and diverse program options across the system while allowing flexibility to respond to unprecedented reductions in the university budget.

What does “Lead Campus” really mean?

Each main campus – Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau—will focus its research, teaching and mission on its unique set of strengths, capabilities, advantages and opportunities. The options for how a lead campus model will be implemented could vary on a program-by-program basis based on such factors as mission centrality, cost effectiveness, quality and access. Distance learning can play a role in all options as will the development of a common catalog.

Strategic Pathways is a framework for decision-making and the decisions have not yet been made on what campuses may take the lead on, or what programs outside a lead model will remain on any particular campus. Decisions will be made as we go through a 3-phase review process in each of the coming three years

One example of a lead campus structure already in the system is the UAA nursing program. This program is referred to as a “sole provider” model. Students in Bethel, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Mat-Su, Nome, Sitka and Valdez are all taking nursing classes at their home campus, but the program is run through UAA and degrees are all conferred from UAA.

Another example would be the EPSCoR research program managed by UAF but with active faculty participation from UAA and UAS.

Even more potential “lead campus” models, beyond the sole provider, include having a similar program at multiple locations, but each program’s focus tied to unique campus mission and region; having a similar program at multiple locations but only one location offers graduate level degrees in the program; or having similar courses offered at multiple locations but only one location offers Bachelors or higher level degrees in program.

When will these changes take effect?

Strategic Pathways will be implemented in three phases, with Phase 1 beginning this spring and Phase 3 completed by 2019. The criteria for which programs will be a part of each phase are under development. Faculty, staff and students will have extensive opportunities to participate in the process and the university community will be informed of progress on a regular basis. Governance groups are already at work developing proposed criteria for selection of the programs and services that will be included in Phase 1. In general programs that are easiest to identify as having a lead campus association, have low enrollment, are ideal for consolidation, or need to be maintained as is, will be a part of the first phase; the more complex program evaluations will occur in the second and third phases (2017 and 2018).

Depending on the budget cuts the University receives this year, the timeline may need to be expedited.

How will these changes affect currently enrolled students? (ie. Degree requirements, etc.)

These organizational changes will not change the requirements students are expected to fulfill in their degree programs. It will mean, however, that certain programs may be eliminated or combined with other programs. It is normal practice for a University to “teach-out” eliminated programs, allowing students already enrolled in the program an opportunity to finish.

What are the specifics of the restructuring?

While the details are still being developed, Strategic Pathways envisions a University of Alaska where we reallocate resources from programs that are:

  • not core to each university’s strengths in meeting state needs;
  • challenged by low enrollment, high cost, or insufficient faculty resources; or
  • unnecessarily redundant with programs at our other universities.

Resources will be reallocated to those programs that are tied to each university’s unique and distinctive strengths. In many cases, through technology and arrangements across the UA system, these excellent programs will be made accessible to all Alaskans, and at a lower overall cost.

General Education Requirements (GERs), liberal arts and humanities courses, developmental education classes, and career and technical certificate and degree programs will be available broadly at all campuses. The university will continue to enable student transfers and flexibility through common calendars, GERs and other courses. In addition, there will be greater consistency in administrative systems and educational technologies across the university.

What was wrong with the old organizational structure?

Significant changes in the educational landscape, the unmet needs of students, the unmet needs of the Alaska workforce and the State’s inability to fund myriad [and sometimes duplicative] programs at multiple locations have challenged the university’s existing structure. The university simply cannot afford to be all things to all people, nor can it continue to support multiple administrative departments and services in three locations. Organizing certain programs at lead campuses will allow more opportunities for engagement and collaboration between not only students, but also faculty. The new organization will foster academic excellence and program development, and provide a much more coordinated administrative structure that will result in a more efficient and effective university.

Could the new organizational structure result in layoffs?

There may be impacts to positions and a reduction to the university’s workforce as a result of restructuring. We won’t know how great that reduction will be until the legislature finalizes our budget later this spring, but a rough way to think about it is a $1 million decrease in state funding translates to a decrease of about 10 positions.

What is the faculty’s role in the restructuring?

Faculty input will be vital to the restructuring decisions. Teams will be established to gather input, evaluate data and present options to university leadership. These discussions will be extremely important to the deliberation process. Student and university governance also will serve as an interface with university administration.

How does this affect the university’s financial position?

The restructuring will play an integral part in the long-term financial position of the university and help us achieve future financial stability.

How will the changes impact the university’s administrative organization?

This realignment focuses on streamlining the university system from top to bottom. No matter what “lead campus” model is eventually chosen for programs such as teacher education, business management, or engineering, administration will be more streamlined as a result of our increased focus and clarity of roles and responsibilities.

What about fundraising efforts?

Fundraising will continue to be a critical part of the university and its connection to alumni and the community. A comprehensive fundraising effort is in the planning stages and should prove to be an important source of additional support for the university moving forward.

How do Strategic Pathways and the FY18 budget relate?

As the university considers FY18 budget planning, an eye will be kept on Strategic Pathways. Budget development is underway. Depending on the final budget the university receives from the legislature, the planned process for Strategic Pathways may need to be re-evaluated.

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