Sheldon Jackson trustees vote to stay open

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2000

SITKA (AP) -- The Sheldon Jackson College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to keep the private four-year institution in operation while it goes through a reorganization to stem financial losses.

The vote came after a day of deliberation behind closed doors.

''I am amazed at what the community has done in this time of crisis to support the college,'' said Arliss Sturgulewski, a college trustee from Anchorage.

Carlyle Haaland, the interim president hired for the specific purpose of leading the college through its reorganization, said he was optimistic about the college's future.

''I came up here because I saw a school with millions of dollars in convertible assets and a small cash shortage,'' he said.

Last December the trustees, faced with a worsening financial status, wrestled with a decision on whether to close the school.

The majority of the board, however, responded to indications that the Sitka community was prepared to help the historic institution find a long-term solution for its survival.

They invited a community task force to meet with administrators, faculty and trustees to map out possible solutions.

Besides making recommendations for revising academic operations and raising money, the broad-based task force and the trustees agreed to seek the assistance of a consulting firm experienced in college development.

The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. made a grant for the project, and the Sitka City and Borough Assembly awarded $200,000 in community economic development funds for the effort to keep the college open.

When they postponed the decision on closure last December, the trustees said their decision in March would be based on whether financing could be assured for at least three more years of operation.

Tentative plans call for sale of some of the college's property, developing on-campus fund-raising enterprises, and expanding efforts to build an endowment.

Sheldon Jackson College dates from 1878, and is one of only two private four-year colleges in Alaska.

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