Johnsen to donate $50K bonus to university | Local News

FAIRBANKS — The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a $50,000 bonus for UA President Jim Johnsen during its meeting in Juneau Thursday. 

Johnsen, upon being awarded the bonus, pledged to donate the money back to the university. 

“As president, I am committed to giving back to this great university,” he said, “and to supporting the many programs about which I feel very strongly.”

According to Jyotsna Heckman, chairwoman of the subcommittee that assessed Johnsen’s performance, the bonus was part of Johnsen’s original contract. It stated that he would be awarded the amount if he met certain goals outlined in the contract, including increasing the incoming number of Alaska Performance Scholarship recipients, increasing the number of degrees and credentials earned by Alaska Native students and decreasing statewide spending, among others.

Johnsen said he plans to donate the full amount to three projects at the university, including the Troth Yeddha’ Indigenous Studies center, the Sen. Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program and a future initiative to develop a statewide center of leadership development, which is now in planning stages.

“These initiatives will support the cultural and scholarly needs of our students and Alaska’s first peoples,” Johnsen said. “Through these programs we honor the legacy of Sen. Ted Stevens and contribute to establishing a new level of excellence and academic focus on leadership.”

This type of bonus has been met with public outcry in the past, with former UA President Pat Gamble’s approved $320,000 retention bonus inciting community outrage including a series of public protests and letters to the editor that eventually caused regents to rescind the offer. 

During the most recent two-day meeting held at the University of Alaska Southeast, university leaders also discussed a plan to increase tuition 5 percent each year for the next two years. These increases would begin in academic year 2019.

University officials also discussed Johnsen’s Strategic Pathways plan to streamline university structure, which is now in its third phase.

Johnsen said he plans to continue to gather input on proposed directions in seven areas — arts and humanities, social and natural sciences, mine training, finance, land management, risk management and facilities. Johnsen will offer his recommendations for cuts and consolidations at the November board meeting in Anchorage.

Contact staff writer Erin Granger at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.