300 UAF jobs at stake even in 'best-case scenario,' university says

At least 300 jobs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks will be lost or reduced because of the school's financial problems.

UAF Chancellor Mike Powers sent out an email to university staff Friday afternoon explaining that the school's budget shortfall will result in job cuts and reductions.

The university is bracing for a budget gap of at least $26 million in fiscal year 2017 and possibly as much as $36 million.

"For UAF as a whole," he wrote, "even our best-case scenario of a $26 million reduction will likely mean at least 300 people and positions affected."

Those will come in the form of layoffs, contract non-renewals and contract reductions. Most vacant positions will also be left open in the year ahead.

These cuts and changes are underway, and some employees have already received notices.

Marmian Grimes, a UAF spokeswoman, said the reductions will hit faculty and staff alike.


"Everything is on the table," she said. "It'll be administration, research, education, support. Reductions of this magnitude touch every aspect of what we do."

She said the changes will happen gradually in the coming weeks and months.

While UAF has been developing a plan to manage the shrinking budget, "that process has been slower than expected," Powers wrote.

UAF's administration is "weighing options proposed by each of the vice chancellors carefully," he said in the email. "Recommendations from the Planning and Budget Committee on those options are expected to be presented to the cabinet in the coming weeks. The Board of Regents is expected to weigh in on the budget reductions next week and the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn mid-month. Both will give us more certainty on our next steps."

In Juneau, lawmakers are grappling with how to fix a state budget deficit topping $4 billion, weighing cuts and new streams of revenue.

In February, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen pushed back against university budget cuts proposed by Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole. Gov. Bill Walker has also proposed reduced funding for the university system.

Also in February, the university system released a plan detailing how it would restructure in light of reduced funding from the state.

"I know you are all feeling the heavy load and uncertainty," Powers wrote. He said he would continue to share updates with staff as they become available.

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.