University of Alaska regents consider accreditation plans

    Fairbanks, Alaska (AP) - The University of Alaska Board of Regents has voted to consider both single- and multiple-university accreditation models, a report said.

    New language was added during a board meeting in Anchorage on Friday enabling two options for accrediting the state's universities, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Saturday.

    University President Jim Johnsen has proposed a plan that would consolidate the three separately accredited universities in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau into a single-accredited institution.

    The consolidation could lower costs and absorb a $70 million budget cut by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The $70 million cut would be stretched over the next three years but still leave the university system with $25 million in reductions this fiscal year, officials said. The fiscal year began July 1.

    Regents voted in July to consider a plan to consolidate into a single university. New language Friday urges university leaders to consider "single and multiple institution accreditation." Some appeared to support the path toward a single university. Leaders in the Legislature are urging quick action.

    The consolidation plan has generated opposition among faculty, students and members of the public.

    Regents met Thursday to hear public testimony regarding consolidation, feedback that almost entirely consisted of criticism of the plan.

    "The students come first, and if the students are imploring us not to drive quickly to a one-university model or a single-accreditation model, we should be responsive and attentive to that," said Regent Andy Teuber, who introduced the language change.

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