- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - A new report examining the impacts of a proposal calling for the University of Alaska’s three campuses to drop their independent accreditations for system-wide accreditation ultimately argues against the change.

The study released Wednesday found that single accreditation “is neither necessary nor sufficient” to reduce costs or improve the student experience, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/2azEzCR).

“In addition, the process to merge UA’s institutions would be disruptive, take at least two years, and might not be approved by the (Northwest) Commission (on Colleges and Universities). Therefore, undertaking an accreditation merger at this time is not recommended,” according to the report by Dana Thomas, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ incoming interim chancellor.

The single accreditation proposal comes as UA has faced continued budget cuts and President Jim Johnsen has pushed for a complete overhaul of how the university system operates.

The report notes that single accreditation would bring about such change by sending a clear message “that business as usual is not acceptable,” but it also argues potential benefits could be achieved in other ways.

Thomas recommends the University of Alaska follow the process laid out in Johnsen’s Strategic Pathways project, which focuses on highlighting each campus’ strengths, eliminating redundant spending.

“Let that process run its course,” the report states. “Single accreditation could be reevaluated after the full impacts of Strategic Pathways are realized. Meanwhile, UA could work on a more common positive student experience by, for example, adopting and implementing a common course catalog, a single transcript, and more consistent policies and procedures across all of its campuses.”

Thomas acknowledges his potential conflict of interest in writing the report. He began working on it before being selected as interim chancellor for UAF, according to the study.

The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents will consider the report at a September meeting.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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