Mayor Berkowitz tells legislators to put vision before structure for university system
What is the best way to structure the University of Alaska system? It's a question the Senate State Affairs Committee is hoping to narrow down to after hearing a series of presentations on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus on Friday.
"We have a structure that's in place, modifying it makes more sense to me than radically transforming it," Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz told the committee.
Berkowitz feels it will be counter-productive to have different regions of the state fighting over resources. He told the committee this is a time where the state needs to come together, not be against one another.
"Let's have a clear idea of what our vision is for the university before they take that next step of saying what the structure is going to be," Berkowitz said. "Until there is a shared idea of what the vision is for the university, determining what the structure is seems to me to turn things upside down."
The majority of the people who presented before the committee were not in favor of consolidation. However, UAA Associate Professor of Political Science Forrest Nabors said the universities may be far better off governing themselves.
"Many of us believe that the best path forward would be to break UAF, UAA and UAS out of the UA system for the good of all three," Nabors said. "Sentiment for the independence of UAA as Alaska's state university is strong and growing."
Nabors is asking for legislators to use their constitutional authority to decentralize the university system.
"This is why we push decisions down because we believe that people can govern themselves and that people hundreds of miles away aren't somehow divinely gifted to govern us better than people who are there on the ground," Nabors said. "So, I think UAA is certainly large enough to have their own board of trustees."
The committee used the platform to listen. They plan to hold another presentation session in the near future in order to hear from more of the stakeholders involved.
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