University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen speaks about exigency

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted yesterday to declare financial exigency.

We sat down with University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen to learn about what that means and how it will affect the University. (John Dougherty/KTVF)

We sat down with University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen to learn about what that means and how it will affect the University.

"Financial exigency is a deceleration by the Board of Regents that basically enables it to modify contracts that we have with our employees. It is not bankruptcy. But it does enable us, under our policies and under our labor agreements, it does enable us to shorten the time period dramatically for notice to employees of layoff," Johnsen said.

Going forward, Johnsen is focused on the students.

Johnsen

"We have this very strong obligation to help our students complete their programs and that becomes the single most important obligation of all,"

Johnsen said the university will meet the obligations in different ways depending on the student.

Johnsen

"If the student is about to graduate, that will be a very different plan for that student than a student that is a first year and think about what his or her options are going forward."

Johnsen says there is no question the university will be smaller, but whether that means degrees will be cut is unknown.

However, Johnsen gave examples of some programs that won't be on the table.

Johnsen

"Some place in our university system, management, accounting, finance, welding, and psychology. There will be a program somewhere in Alaska, either for face-to-face or in addition to that, for online opportunities for students."

Johnsen encourages any students who are considering the university to...

Johnsen

"Come. We are going to be here, and we are in a tough spot right now, but we're doing our damnedest to make sure that you and your opportunities for higher education will be met. We have top quality faculty, we will have top quality faculty no matter what next year and the year after that."

The Regents will meet again next week, where they are expected to vote on which plan of action they want to pursue for the future of the university.