Public Affairs

October 31, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2019

UA President Jim Johnsen addresses national academic leaders, statewide industry leaders, legislators about plans for resolving current challenges; calls for university community to pull together

ANCHORAGE – In an effort to inform different constituencies about the challenges facing the University of Alaska, UA President Jim Johnsen has been talking with key audiences around the state and the country about the challenges and opportunities faced by the university.

Last week, Johnsen was the invited speaker at the UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education on the issues facing the university system. After listing the university’s core strengths and many major contributions to the state, Johnsen referenced Harvard scholar Ron Heifetz’s work on adaptive change. The adaptive challenge facing UA, he said, is how to “preserve what is most core to our mission and purpose at the university for our state, while shedding what we must in order to adapt and thrive in a changing economic, demographic, and technological world?” Johnsen’s Berkeley remarks can be found at  https://alaska.edu/pres/communications/

On Monday, during a town hall meeting organized by Anchorage–area legislators, Johnsen addressed recent actions to move the university forward given the compact with the governor, which resulted in a $70 million reduction in funding from the state over three years. In that address, he also called for the university community to pull together.

“Understandably, throughout this tumultuous year, our faculty and staff have experienced a great deal of stress…. Whenever an organization’s resources are threatened and its security challenged, as has happened to the university this past year, one may expect a rise in internal conflict. And that is just what we are experiencing. I am hopeful that the processes established by the Board of Regents, made possible by the compact agreement, will enable the wounds caused by this internal conflict to heal, so that all three of our universities and our community campuses are pulling together as we step up in meeting the higher education needs of Alaska,” he said.

“To our students, everything we do is dedicated to you,” he said. “I understand that it might not seem that way sometimes, but—now that our compact agreement is in place—we can take a breath and move through the tough decisions…I am confident we can adapt our university, we can preserve and build on what is core to what we do for the state in this ever changing world.” Johnsen’s legislative town hall statement can be found at https://alaska.edu/pres/communications/

On Tuesday, Johnsen addressed the Alaska Chamber’s Fall Forum, where he discussed the future of the University of Alaska including the work underway to build, strengthen and pursue UA’s goals.

Yesterday, Johnsen spoke to the Palmer Chamber of Commerce. In, the coming weeks he will present talks to several other chambers of commerce as well as national education associations, including the annual meeting of the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities where he will address The Council of Presidents. In November Johnsen is the invited guest speaker at the Alaska Municipal League conference and the ALCOM Arctic Symposium.

As remarks become available they will be posted at:  https://alaska.edu/pres/communications/

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For more information, contact Roberta Graham, associate vice president of public affairs at 907-360-2416 (cell).

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