University of Alaska Faces Major Budget Cuts, Could Drop 40 Degree Programs

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) has vetoed a new budget proposal for the University of Alaska, a decision which could lead to the loss of 700 jobs and 40 degree programs at just one of the institution’s main campuses.

According to a local news report, the University of Alaska is facing serious budget concerns after Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy moved to cut the institution’s funding by more than 40 percent. This equates to approximately a $135 million cut in state funding or 17 percent of the university’s total budget. According to Time, Dunleavy said about the cuts, “Over the past several years we have used [$14 billion] from our savings to subsidize the government. This situation, everyone agrees, is not sustainable.”

The decision could cost up to 700 jobs and 40 degree programs at the University of Alaska’s Anchorage campus alone. The University of Alaska has reportedly faced declining enrollment which is expected to continue into the future.

“I want to reassure people and keep them focused on advocacy,” University of Alaska – Anchorage Chancellor Cathy Sandeen said. “But at the same time, I need to start doing some calculations and I need to let the public know this is what could happen.”

University of Alaska – Anchorage Professor Nolan Klouda told TIME magazine that Alaska has a vulnerable economy that is susceptible to drastic and quick shifts. “Alaska doesn’t have a very diverse economy. It’s like a three-legged stool. You have federal spending, oil and then everything else like tourism, mining and fishing,” Klouda says. “It’s easy for one of those to shock the economy.”

Megan Olson, University of Alaska – Anchorage vice chancellor, says that Dunleavy’s decision could force hundreds of families to leave Alaska for other states. “There’s no replacement jobs for those people, so unless they can retire we’re probably seeing a lot of people leaving the state,” Olson said.

Insiders claim that degree programs in engineering and health care will be protected from the cutbacks. However, other programs, likely in the arts, could be on the chopping block.

Activists are working to encourage legislators to restore funding to the university.  On Monday, state legislators introduced a bill to reverse the governor’s veto.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for more updates on this story.

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