Strategic Pathways Update

As the university prepares for students and faculty to return to campus, the seven Phase I Strategic Pathways review teams, which began their work a month ago, are working toward an Aug. 17 completion date for options to be presented to the Summit Team. The three academic and four administrative programs under review include the schools of Management, Engineering and Education, and the administrative areas of Information Technology, Research Administration, Procurement and Intercollegiate Athletics.

At the most recent meeting on July 25/26, President Jim Johnsen told the review team members that he is grateful for the time they’ve invested over the last several weeks. “I’ve been very impressed by the commitment you have all made to bring us to where we are today,” he said. “The teams are doing their best and I appreciate that, and I realize this is hard, especially when an option on the table may impact you personally. When that happens, I ask you to remember why we are here, to think anew about how to strengthen the University of Alaska in its service to Alaska and its people.”

President Johnsen reminded the groups of some critical statistics including:

  • UA is responsible for 85 percent of the higher education in Alaska.
  • By 2025, 65 percent of our workforce will require some postsecondary education. We are now at 37 percent.
  • Of 100 average 9th graders in Alaska, just 5 will graduate with a Baccalaureate degree from UA after 10 years. Our economy needs 25.
  • Alaska imports 70 percent of our new teachers every year from outside Alaska, at a recruiting cost alone of $17 million. Every year!
  • We rank near the bottom of all the states in the New Economy Index and in completion rates.
  • In terms of market share, the percentage of Alaskans in higher education has declined 32 percent since 1980, from 6.3 percent to 4.3 percent.
  • We have the highest percentage of our population, of any state, with some higher education but no degree.
  • Yet we rank No.3 in per capita state support for higher education, No.2 in state appropriations and total revenue per student FTE, even after adjusting for our high cost of living.

“I share these statistic with you NOT to discourage you, but to charge you up,” he said. “These challenges are opportunities!”

The seven working groups, comprised of Alaskans —faculty, staff, students, community leaders – from all across the state – are working together to achieve goals that are bigger than any one person, any one of our campuses, or anyone of our towns, he said.

The groups will spend the next three weeks fine tuning and sharpening their respective options along with the pros/cons associated with those options. Select team members will then present options to the Summit Team on Aug. 17 after which President Johnsen will meet with campus staff/faculty/students as well as with key external groups to discuss those options before making final recommended options to the Board of Regents for at its September 15/16 meeting in Juneau.

“I will weigh all the options on their merits and carry forward those options that make the best sense for our students, our university and our state,” he told the review teams.

Phase 2 of Strategic Pathways will commence this fall with the review of four academic and four administrative programs. The draft list of those areas includes the academic areas of Community Colleges, Cooperative Extension Service, Health and Fisheries. The administrative programs include Human Resources, University Relations, Institutional Research and Student Affairs.

Phase 3 reviews will commence this spring and be completed by the end of the fiscal year.

“By this time next year, when we are celebrating our 100th anniversary, thanks to you we will have completed this comprehensive, inclusive review and be well on the way to implementation of how the University can best serve our state for the next 100 years,” Johnsen said.

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