UA Board of Regents decide to halt university merger talks
The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted 9-2 on Monday to take the consolidation of the university system into one accredited institution out of consideration.
The vote came after a morning meeting with Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities President Sonny Ramaswamy to discuss the concerns he addressed in a letter to the board, UA President Jim Johnsen and three chancellors.
“We sent the letter… to make sure that the board heard the concerns we are hearing,” Ramaswamy said. “We want you to hold a mirror up, to see for yourself what is going on."
While the letter came as a surprise to some board members, others welcomed it.
One of the things I'm interested in is moving well past this one accreditation concept and get that into the past and then deal with the model that we have," Regent Darroll Hargraves said. "Improve it as much as possible."
The board, along with Johnsen, heard the concerns of Ramaswamy. They also allowed comment from students in attendance.
"I noticed, sitting in the back there, the other regents were acknowledged before our student regent," Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Vice President Daniel Vaziri said. "Our student regent is our voice to this board. We have the right to have a voice on this board and she is not being recognized."
"Students, faculty and staff do not feel comfortable with the process," ASUAF President Bernard Aoto said. "They do not feel comfortable with the way the board has handled this process and they do not feel comfortable with the way that the board has reacted to this concern."
Ramaswamy told the board that these are the kinds of concerns he and his staff have been hearing.
After the meeting, the board held a closed door executive session and emerged with their votes of no consolidation and a 9-1 vote to suspend fast-tracked academic reviews until they speak more with chancellors and Johnsen.
“I don’t see it as being reactionary, but as being responsive to the constituents we are supposed to serve," said Regent Lisa Parker in the release.
The board agreed to meet again in the final week of October to review the response to NWCCU and to hold a strategy session at a future date to further address issues raised by NWCCU.
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