UAA students to cast no confidence vote aimed at university president
On Monday, a group of University of Alaska Anchorage students attended the legislative town hall meeting and voiced their concerns with the direction the university is heading. Back on campus the next day, members of the UAA student government held an executive meeting and finalized their letter of no confidence directed at UA President Jim Johnsen.
"The actions of President Johnsen not only recently with regards to single accreditation and his methods in doing so but, in the past years, we've come to the realization that he is, time and time again, really refusing to listen to the right voices, to respect the correct lines of authority and communication and really overstepping his bounds as the president of the university system," said UAA student Tuan Graziano.
Johnsen was in Girdwood Tuesday to speak to the Alaska Chamber on the direction of the university system. Johnsen said he appreciates the students' perspective but said they still have a lot to learn about the process.
"As time goes on and they have more experience in the world, they'll understand more about what it's like to be in a decision making role," he said. "Especially when the pressures of severity of a budget reduction and time are not very flexible. I think they'll come to understand being in the arena is very very important for actually understanding the situation."
The University of Alaska Board of Regents on Monday agreed to forward the requested response to the university's accrediting agency: The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Despite the current efforts, the UAA student government is not convinced of Johnsen's leadership moving forward. Their vote of no confidence follows a similar statement by the UAA Faculty Senate in early October.
"I think this is kind of unprecedented and it's a bold move," said UAA student Alex Jorgensen. "It's a bold claim to say that we do not have confidence and we worked really hard to ensure that we had documented examples of why and we could clearly articulate why we have no confidence in the president and the leadership of President Johnsen."
Jorgensen said the and the student government feel the board is doing a much better job including students and staff in the decision making process since the NWCCU letter was handed down on Sept. 26.
"We are the reason this university exists," Jorgensen said. "We are the future of the entire state of Alaska. It rests kind of on our shoulders. It's a big responsibility to take."
Johnsen has the backing of Board of Regents Chair John Davies and said a lot of hard decisions still remain. More jobs will be lost and programs will be reduced over the next two years.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7. Johnsen said he and the board will be ready to present a future plan to the governor and lawmakers at the end of November.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
MORE NEWS FROM KTVA: