UA President Jim Johnsen comments on School of Education closure

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska The UA Board of Regents voted Monday to close down the University of Alaska Anchorage's 'Initial Teacher Licensing' Program after the UAA School of Education lost it accreditation in January of this year.

While not everyone was happy with the decision, many say it was the only option. The State of Alaska requires institutions to be accredited in order to issue a teaching license.

"Teaching is the single most important job in our state," said Jim Johnsen, President of UA System. "And we have got to make sure that we provide strong and certain pathways to that really important role and mission and cause that our teacher move forward in Alaska every single day with our next generation."

The soonest UAA could receive accreditation would be in 3 years.

"And so I didn't feel that was fair to our students to expect them to go through a program where licensure was not certain," Johnsen said.

Earlier this month President Johnsen recommended that the Board of Regents vote to close the UAA School of Education and transfer the UAA students to UAF. Johnsen says the change won't have any effect on UAF students and classes will be offered both online and face-to-face in Anchorage.

"We're going to need some Anchorage based faculty," said Amy Vinlove, Director of UAF's School of Education. "That's a big piece of the puzzle is to have faculty who are employed by UAF but that live and work in Anchorage so that we can offer face to face courses."

Johnson blames leadership at the UAA for the loss of accreditation and that since losing accreditation the leadership has totally changed with a new dean of education, provost and chancellor.

"At the end of the day it was a failure of leadership in the education school and in other parts of UAA to make sure the faculty were working together and working on the accreditation and focusing on the accreditation," Johnsen said.

However, not everyone agrees with his assessment of the failure.

"I hold President Jim Johnsen directly responsible for the loss of accreditation," said Abel Bult-ito, the President of United Academics.

President Johnsen says that UA now does monthly and quarterly checks of their accreditation programs to make sure this situation isn't repeated. He went on to say that some people at UAA's School of Education may lose their job as a result of the program change. Going forward the university is strong and they make every decision in light of what is best for students.

The Board of Regents voted Monday to adopt his plan and the school is already working to ensure students can continue their education.