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Jim Johnsen, current president of the University of Alaska system, was named a finalist for the University of Wisconsin system presidency. Johnsen will complete multiple committee and shared governance interviews next week, according to a press release.

The pandemic posed “unanticipated and unprecedented circumstances and obstacles” to the search process, and several candidates withdrew their names from consideration over concerns about being publicly named a finalist during the health crisis, the release stated.

The search committee will decide after the interviews whether to recommend Johnsen to the system Board of Regents, which will vote to approve the new president.

Johnsen has served as president of the University of Alaska system since 2015. In July 2019, he proposed three potential restructuring plans for the university system following a 41 percent cut to state funding and a declaration of financial exigency. The plan to consolidate the three campuses into a single accreditation for the system was ultimately rejected in December. The University of Wisconsin system in 2017 started merging its two-year colleges with seven four-year colleges in similar geographic areas.

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