Leading on the Edge of Change: Climate, Education and Politics in Alaska
Lecture | October 24 | 4-5:30 p.m. | Faculty Club, Seaborg Room
James Johnsen, President, University of Alaska
The University of Alaska is the state's sole public system of higher education and a world leader in Arctic research. In response to unprecedented 41 percent state funding cut enacted by gubernatorial budget veto in 2019, the University mounted a major advocacy campaign, declared financial exigency, and began planning for organizational restructuring to include consolidation of the system's several universities and termination of tenured faculty. The governor's veto was rationalized on grounds that the state was in a fiscal crisis and that the university was too costly, in particular its research activities. After a second legislative session and continued public opposition to the governor's veto, the legislature reinstated most of the vetoed funds. At the same time, under pressure to resolve the funding issue in lieu of a second veto, the university and the governor agreed to a three year "compact" that moderated budget reductions and committed the governor and the university to support a number of high priority initiatives to strengthen higher education in the state. University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen will present an overview of the case and an analysis of the implications for higher education in Alaska and in the nation.