Chancellor's Biography

Chancellor Sean Parnell

University of Alaska Anchorage

Sean Parnell serves as Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Since his appointment in 2021, Chancellor Parnell has pursued key initiatives focusing on college affordability, student success, and positioning UAA as a trusted community partner. The Chancellor works to advance UAA’s role as Alaska’s largest workforce provider, and the flagship university for health and Arctic public policy.

Chancellor Parnell’s tenure has included key initiatives and achievements:

Affordable and Accessible Education - Putting students first by making UAA more affordable and accessible for students. The university has held tuition steady for multiple years, expanded scholarships and decreased fees. Chancellor Parnell also created UAA Caucus to foster dialogue and problem-solving within the university community. This helps ensure student, staff, faculty and UAA leadership can collaborate together in removing barriers to student success and creating a student-centered campus experience.

Financial Sustainability - Chancellor Parnell worked with UA System leaders, the Governor and elected leaders to bring UAA out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through building support with policymakers and community partners, UAA is recovering from budget reductions and pandemic losses towards a stronger fiscal outlook. 

UAA’s Strategic Plan - UAA has a clear mission as a university – creating opportunity for Alaskans through education. UAA is attaining a bright future through collaboration and advancing several strategic plan and initiatives.

UAA 2027, our strategic plan, casts a vision for our university’s identity: UAA transforms lives. The plan outlines how we achieve this vision. A vision ensuring UAA as a student-centered university. A place where each person belongs, and is welcomed and respected. A future for UAA as a trusted and respected community partner.

UAA’s Anchorage Campus Master Plan was recently updated and approved by the UA Board of Regents after an inclusive, two-year process. The plan establishes how UAA will maximize its facilities and real estate assets to advance our strategic plan. In 2022, UAA kicked off a Strategic Enrollment (SEM) Management Planning initiative with a plan for enhancing recruitment and retention of students expected in 2023.

Alaska’s Trusted Community Partner - UAA actively engages with communities, industry school districts, the military, and policymakers. We are showcasing our students’ achievements and our world-class workforce programs. We share our faculty’s applied research, providing real world solutions for issues facing Alaska. UAA is a leader in health, engineering, aviation, business, public policy and economics. Chancellor Parnell advances UAA’s message and highlights the university’s valuable role as a partner for Alaskans and our global community.  

Expanding Dual-Enrollment Opportunities - College-level learning doesn’t have to wait for college. UAA collaborated with K-12 teachers and school districts to create new educational opportunities for young Alaskans. Dual-enrollment programs allow students to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. These programs create pathways for a wide range of careers, from STEM and aviation to civics and health. This innovative approach improves student achievement, and creates an on-ramp for an affordable college education.

Chancellor Sean Parnell
Prior to becoming Chancellor, Parnell was an attorney practicing law in Alaska for twenty-five years. Parnell served as the 10th Governor of the State of Alaska from 2009-2014. His leadership expanded funding for education, helped combat domestic violence and sexual assault, and lifted Alaska to record economic prosperity and employment. The Chancellor previously served in the Alaska State Legislature, including two terms in the House and later in the Alaska State Senate where he was Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2006 and became Governor of Alaska in 2009.

Chancellor Parnell is a graduate of East Anchorage High School. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University and a Juris Doctor degree from the Seattle University School of Law.

The Chancellor and Sandy Parnell have lived in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley for more than 35 years, and are the proud parents of two daughters and four grandchildren.