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University of Alaska Scraps Merger

August 7, 2020

The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted Wednesday to scrap plans to merge the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Southeast campuses, Alaska Public Media reported.

The vote rescinded a July 4 resolution to explore a merger between the two universities, put forward by then system president Jim Johnson. The recent reversal, attributed to widespread opposition to the merger, is another no vote from the board for any kind of systemwide structural changes.

The UA system faces declining enrollment, dropping state funding and a possible $40 million budget shortfall in 2022.

“We have to be smaller,” said Pat Pitney, interim president of the UA system. “When you take a 30 percent reduction, plus a [more than] $30 million reduction due to COVID, we are going to be smaller, but we’re going to be more efficient and have more cross-campus programs.”

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