University of Alaska president Jim Johnsen used his State of the University address to highlight successes among its three campuses while asking for support for the future.

"Our state needs us more than ever," Johnsen said.

The address comes at a time when the University of Alaska system is facing a loss of $134 million in state funding in Gov. Dunleavy's budget proposal.

On Monday, KTVA reported on an investigation that revealed decades of sexual misconduct by a former professor in UAA's Anthropology Department.

Meanwhile the Board of Regents is deciding on how to deal with the loss of accreditation for about 200 students within University of Alaska Anchorage's School of Education. 

"I'm the first to admit we're not perfect," Johnsen said. "No doubt we will be making significant changes in the coming months and years, but there is no other cornerstone in this state more successful than the University of Alaska in creating success for Alaskans."

Alaska has been in a recession for the past 3 years, according to economists with the Alaska Department of Labor, which has resulted in 12,000 lost jobs and more than $800 million in lost wages. The university was also hit hard by the recession, as Johnsen noted, they've lost more than 1,200 faculty members over the past few years.

Throughout his address, he highlighted the University of Alaska Fairbanks' research leading the world in understanding the north, and its impact to the state economy. The University system generated $1.1 billion in economic activity in 2015, according to a 2016 report by the McDowell Group. 

UA also has a non-traditional student population. Johnsen said the average student age is higher than most traditional universities, with more than 100,000 alumni. The average age at the University of Alaska Anchorage is 28.5, according to its website.

The campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Southeast are hundreds of miles apart and are all very different. Johnsen said it's unfair to compare UA to other traditional universities in the Lower 48.

"We are compared to universities that are large and in a single location giving them the advantage of scale," Johnsen added. "Our universities are compared to each other despite the fact that all three are different in terms of their mission, in terms of their location, in terms of their size, in terms of the mix and levels of degree programs, how they account for their costs and their research and outreach missions."

"Is there anything about Alaska that is average? I don't think so," Johnsen said.

Editor's note: This article has been edited to clarify the context of President Johnsen's comments.

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