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University of Alaska President Vows to Give Back His Bonus

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen has pledged to donate his $50,000 bonus to the school.

The university’s Board of Regents approved a $50,000 bonus for Johnsen last week, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

“As president, I am committed to giving back to this great university,” Johnsen said, “and to supporting the many programs about which I feel very strongly.”

The bonus was part of Johnsen’s original contract, said Jyotsna Heckman, chairwoman of the subcommittee that assessed Johnsen’s performance. It stated that he would be awarded the amount if he met certain goals, including increasing the incoming number of Alaska Performance Scholarship recipients, increasing the number of degrees and credentials earned by Alaska Native students and decreasing statewide spending.

Johnsen plans to donate the full amount to three projects at the university, the Troth Yeddha’ Indigenous Studies center, the Sen. Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program and a future initiative to develop a statewide center of leadership development, which is now in planning stages, he said.

“These initiatives will support the cultural and scholarly needs of our students and Alaska’s first peoples,” Johnsen said. “Through these programs we honor the legacy of Sen. Ted Stevens and contribute to establishing a new level of excellence and academic focus on leadership.”

This type of bonus has been met with public outcry in the past. An approved $320,000 retention bonus for former university President Pat Gamble was met with a series of public protests that eventually led the Board of Regents to rescind the offer.

Regents approved Johnsen’s bonus Thursday. During a two-day meeting, regents also discussed a possible plan to increase tuition by 5 percent each year for the next two years.

Johnsen will offer his recommendations for cuts and consolidations at the November board meeting in Anchorage.

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