GRAB AND GO - Library patron Tina Johnson, left, and Joanna Perensovich, information services librarian, wear masks in the Sitka Library this afternoon. The library no longer has couches for patrons, but does have computer desks widely spaced apart for people to access for one-hour periods. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

UA Merger Plan Poses Threat to Sitka Campus?

Sentinel Staff Writer

With the University of Alaska considering a merger of its Fairbanks and Southeast branches, the chairman of the UAS-Sitka Advisory Council told the Assembly Tuesday that may be the end of the Sitka campus.

“We have a real possibility that in fiscal year 2022 we might not have a campus,” advisory council chairman Garry White said.

Earlier this month, the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted to look into the possibility of a UAF-UAS merger as a cost-cutting measure. The University of Alaska Southeast has campuses in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan.

The official summary of the board meeting June 4-5 reads that the board “intends to inquire and collect data, examine ideas and opportunities, explore potential efficiencies, study the pros and cons of a structural option involving a merger of the University of Alaska Southeast and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.”

White said the regents cited a 20 percent cut to the university budget between 2014 and 2020, combined with declining enrollment and a lack of cost effectiveness at UAS as reasons to look into the merger.

He said there has been resistance to the idea of a merger.

“The Board of Regents of the University of Alaska system held a vote to look at the viability of absorbing the entire UAS system into the UAF. And there was quite a bit of push-back beforehand which was pretty much ignored by the Board of Regents,” he said.

“What the university president said is that he estimates that he could find a $15 million cut by doing this action,” White said. “But if you start looking at the numbers, the University of Alaska Southeast general fund budget every year is about $23 million. It’s only 7.6% of the entire overall system. So if they are looking to whack $15 million out of $23 million, it’s a potential that they are just going to close down our local campuses.”

The Sitka campus advisory council has sent a letter to the Board of Regents proposing “placing rural community campuses under University of Alaska Southeast administrative leadership, and advancing UAS’ leadership role in teacher preparation and educational leadership through a consortium of similar programs” at the university’s Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses.

The letter from the Sitka council raised alarm that “the only way that a merger of UAS into another university would make a meaningful impact on addressing UA’s fiscal challenge is if deep cuts were made to academic and workforce programs.”

“Hopefully we can convince the Board of Regents that this is a valued part of our community and that we can continue to keep it and continue to grow,” White told the Sentinel.


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-10-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of noon Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 51

Total statewide – 1,323

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 5 (2 resident; 3 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 13 (11 resident; 2 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 80.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



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