UAA faculty reaffirm no confidence in University of Alaska president

The University of Alaska Anchorage faculty governance group Friday reaffirmed its vote of no confidence in University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen, saying he had repeatedly ignored concerns about accreditation, disregarded input and attempted to control chancellors’ communications.

The resolution, a non-binding expression of faculty sentiment, was approved by the UAA Faculty Senate in a 33-3 vote with one person abstaining. It comes on the heels of a cautionary letter from the accreditor of Alaska’s universities, and in the middle of a turbulent year for the state’s public university system.

“The faculty are just deeply concerned about the future of the university,” said Scott Downing, president of the UAA Faculty Senate and an associate professor of English at Kenai Peninsula College.

[Some university faculty say accreditor’s letter validates their concerns; others say it’s too vague]

In the resolution, faculty recommend that regents suspend Johnsen and statewide administrators from taking any action to consolidate university functions or conduct academic reviews until a response to the accreditor’s letter is completed by chancellors with input from faculty, students and staff governance groups.

UAA faculty last voted no confidence in Johnsen in January 2017, saying faculty turnover had increased and morale had plummeted during his time at the helm of the university system. Johnsen became president of UA in 2015.

Friday’s resolution was sent to the UA Board of Regents.


In a statement Friday, UA regents chairman John Davies said that this year the university system had faced “a budget crisis that threatened its very existence,” necessitating quick action. Since then the state funding cut was reduced — shrinking from an unprecedented, one-year $135 million cut to a $25 million cut this year.

“Now that circumstances have changed, the Board has opened the process to additional options and more involvement of university leadership, faculty, staff, and students,” said the statement from Davies.

In response to the accreditor’s letter, regents have scheduled an emergency meeting for 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.