Administrators of the University of Alaska are indecisive of how to impose profound mandatory spending cuts which could stagger research programs at one of the premier Arctic science institutions of the world. The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents this week started to consider declaring a financial exigency which would allow officials to take additional cost-cutting measures, which are anticipated to be inclusive of laying off some unionized staff and tenured faculty, as well as, removing or downsizing departments and campuses. The discussion followed a 28th June decision by Governor Mike Dunleavy to reject a projected $8.7bn state operating budget & asserted on a reduction of $444M, inclusive of a $136 million cut to the University of Alaska’s system.
The cut, that applies to the fiscal year that initiated 1st July, amounts to a 40 percent reduction in UA’s state funding, and a 17 percent reduction overall. Administrators at the university, which operates 3 flagship & 13 community campuses, has some 1200 full-time faculty, & serves around 26 thousand students, say they will be deciding how to proceed later this month.
According to an analysis by the University of the Arctic in Rovaniemi, Dunleavy stated that the cut is required to balance the state’s budget & bring improvement to the annual payments to residents from oil drilling revenue. However, researchers are concerned about the impact on UA, which is a prominent player in studying climate change in the Arctic, the fastest-warming region of the planet. UA in Fairbanks (UAF) is amongst the top Arctic science institutions of the world in terms of funding & publications.
UAF geophysicist, Nettie LaBelle-Hamer, stated that he is extremely frustrated. It is not just about climate, it is also about the socioeconomics, politics. There is a need for us to be part of that.