'We are having this one-university model shoved down our throats': UAA students weigh in on UA consolidation
More than 30 people including community members and University of Alaska Anchorage students, faculty, staff and alumni shared their concerns with the University of Alaska Board of Regents on Thursday morning. Another 10 joined via teleconference.
"I physically feel fearful about the future of our institution and the future of the mission that we serve," UAA student Alex Jorgensen said.
Students feel they haven't had an adequate voice when it comes to what happens to their universities and the university system as a whole moving forward.
"As a student, I think we feel we are having this one-university model shoved down our throats," Jorgensen said. "I know that's hyperbole, but it's how we feel."
Jorgensen wasn't alone as fellow UAA student Keon O'Brien told the board of regents to choose their future path wisely because the future of Alaska depends on it.
"'I love UAA, I love the community and home I've found here but, to be frank, there is other opportunities out there that I can go to," O'Brien said. "And I implore you guys as the regents to keep in mind as you're making decisions that myself and many other students would not hesitate to leave state if it comes down to it. And we are the future of the state. I plan to, after getting my degree, going for my masters and then becoming an educator in the public school system here in Alaska," O'Brien said.
Sports was also a concern for many who spoke. Coaches and players defended UAA hockey, women's basketball and the ski teams.
Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop weighed in too.
"The three chancellors are competing for their university and the market share of education dollars," she said. "The context in this situation is not set up to solve the problem at hand."
Bishop feels the three universities lack communication and nothing is going to get solved if things keep going the way they currently are.
"I urge you to create a single college of education under the University of Alaska," Bishop said. "A successful enterprise, as we know, whether it's in the education sector or the business sector, must focus first on its people internally, externally on its customers and provide value to its product or mission."
After a long day, no decision was made other than a 9-2 vote to pass a resolution to conduct expedited program reviews and to gather more input. To do that, the board of regents will be holding a series of virtual town halls. A decision on what to do with the university system isn't expected until November at the earliest.
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