University of Alaska leaders announced Wednesday they plan to restructure the sprawling university by assigning specific degree programs to each campus in an effort to reduce redundancies, cut costs and strengthen programs.
"Each main campus -- Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau -- will focus its research, teaching and service on its unique strengths, capabilities and advantages," University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen said in a prepared statement.
Johnsen said in an interview the plan is still in its early phases and fully implementing it would likely take two to three years. The plan would streamline the university system giving each campus areas of expertise, Johnsen said.
The new model would mean that, for example, the University of Alaska Fairbanks could focus on science, technology, engineering and math, while the University of Alaska Anchorage could focus on nursing and the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau on mining and marine industries.
Johnsen said students would still be able to attend any campus for most majors. An engineering student could go to the Juneau campus, but the program's administrative headquarters would be in Fairbanks, Johnsen said.
"I think it's going to reduce middle management and administrative overhead that we have," he said.
Johnsen said the university already has a similar model for nursing. Right now, UAA leads the nursing program. UAA faculty members are stationed in other locations including Ketchikan, Kenai and Fairbanks to teach students, he said.
"You end up with much stronger faculties if you bring them together under one organization," he said.
The UA Board of Regents voted Friday in support of the framework of Johnsen's plan, asking him to bring more information to the board's February meeting.