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University of Alaska President Faces No-confidence Vote

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The University of Alaska’s president is facing a no-confidence vote related to a decision to put the school of education at the Juneau campus instead of in Fairbanks.

The Fairbanks Faculty Senate is expected to take up the issue Monday, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The proposed resolutions declare the faculty do not have confidence in President Jim Johnsen and put forward ways to keep faculty more involved in decision-making.

“Some of the president’s decisions on Strategic Pathways have blindsided affected faculty and administrative leadership at our campuses, the very people who should be the most involved in the decision-making process,” according to the resolution.

The initial plans were to consolidate the education program in Fairbanks. The plans changed to the University of Alaska Southeast after Juneau lawmakers lobbied and the city committed to a $1 million donation.

The Board of Regents approved the move in December.

“We went into this December special meeting with the Board of Regents thinking that it was going to be UAF, and without public testimony and only about 45 minutes of public discussion at the board, it’s UAS all the sudden,” said Orion Lawlor, president of the UAF Faculty Senate. “And everybody was surprised by that, including the chancellor and the provost and people who should be involved in that. The faculty was not happy about that.”

Lawlor said the goal of the no-confidence vote is to encourage the president and board to include faculty.

“It’s sending a message, and the hope is the president and the Board of Regents bring us in more on the decision-making process,” he said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to work together, and we can collaboratively make decisions that everybody can live with.”

Johnsen is working on transparency, university spokeswoman Robbie Graham said in a statement. Additional state funding cuts have pushed the planning process forward faster, she said.

“Strategic Pathways is a dynamic planning process brought on by two powerful forces: large unmet needs for higher education in Alaska and dramatic cuts to the university’s budget,” Graham said. “The process has been effective at generating options, and we’re learning and improving as we go.”

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