Dean's Dispatch Issue 8

Dean's Dispatch Header

October 2023, Issue 8

Dear Alumni and Friends,

It is fall again, which means we are back in swing at UAA, with full classes, new students, and a packed schedule of events! The beginning of an academic year is always one of my favorite times to be on campus, because I get the chance to see our faculty, staff, and students return to start a new semester filled with promise and opportunity. I am delighted to report that the campus has returned to being a robust and vibrant place for learning and creating. This summer and heading into the fall, we have been particularly focused on expanding our outreach beyond the UAA campus, to the Anchorage and Alaska communities as a whole to share our expertise, excitement, and energy.

In this issue, I highlight how the College has been working to strengthen our ties with the community, to engage with our community partners, and to share the excellence of our programs. In August, the College hosted New York Times Columnist David Brooks at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts (PAC). Mr. Brooks gave a lecture focused on aspects of the musical, Alexander Hamilton’s vision for the United States, and the continuing impact of higher education, to a packed house at the Discovery Theater. The CAS Community Lecture also gave the College the opportunity to share our many areas of excellence with our community. We had student artwork on display, videos playing around the lobby, posters and flyers in the hallways and foyers, and live music, courtesy of our outstanding music faculty. I thank everyone who supported the event, including our partners at the PAC, our sponsors, and all our community members who attended. We plan to have more CAS Community Lectures.

Over the summer, the College hosted our first ever summer camp for students in grades 5-8. We hosted five different camps over the course of three weeks in June. These camps provided us the opportunity to give back to our community and to engage with potential future students. Each camp was run by a member of our faculty and assisted by UAA students. The camps provided a great opportunity for the faculty to share their expertise and love of their discipline. The camps were a fun and engaging way to offer an academic enrichment opportunity for middle school students. Feedback from the camps was overwhelmingly positive so we plan to expand these efforts in the summers moving forward. 

David Brooks event


Convocation 2023

For the past two years, the College has presented the CAS Outstanding Faculty and Staff Awards to one faculty member and one staff member. This year’s theme for the awards was “engaging others to make a positive difference.” It was chosen because engaging our students both in and out of the classroom is imperative. Studies show that when students are engaged they stay in school and graduate at higher rates.These awards recognize faculty and staff who excel at this engagement. This year we recognized Anita Franciosi and Professor Alanna DeRocchi. 

The College has a vision to revitalize the Arts at UAA, because we believe that a strong arts program at UAA means a more vibrant arts scene in Alaska. This vision is already underway in our programming, our partnerships, and our performances. The university is an incubator for the Arts. We have faculty and students who perform with groups across the city, including the Anchorage Symphony and Anchorage Concert Chorus. Our Arts faculty are collaborating in new and exciting ways to develop curriculum that is engaging and our programs are becoming more interdisciplinary, like the collaborations between Art and Journalism and Public Communications  Departments to offer a certificate in Graphic Design. Partnerships between community organizations like the PAC and the Theater & Dance program have allowed us to develop an Event Production Certificate, which trains students in the “back of the house” for stages at UAA, the PAC and beyond. One of the College’s biggest supporters and partners in revitalizing the Arts is the Atwood Foundation. The Atwood Foundation partnered with CAS to help restore the dance program, pledging funds for the next three years (and maybe beyond). Thank you to everyone who is working with the College to revitalize the Arts at UAA. I welcome the community to attend a future Arts event.

Fine Arts building

As mentioned in the last Dean’s Dispatch, the College is in the process of developing a strategic plan for the College of Arts and Sciences that will guide us in the coming years and that aligns with UAA 2027. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the future of the College via the previous survey. The CAS Strategic Planning Group is working with our consultants to incorporate that feedback. We will share this with you in our next issue.


Dr. Jenny McNulty, Dean


Summer Camp students

CAS Spotlight: 
Summer Camps 2023
The College hosted five summer camps throughout the month of June for students in grades 5-8. One parent said that their child “enjoyed all the learning and investigating outside. The staff were helpful and friendly. It was a great camp.” 

Anita accepting her award

Faculty and Staff Spotlight: 
Anita Franciosi & Alanna DeRocchi
The College presents the CAS Outstanding Faculty and Staff Awards to one outstanding member of our faculty and our staff. This year the theme for the awards was “engaging others to make a positive difference,” and the awards were given to Anita Franciosi and Alanna DeRocchi.

Ira Perman photo

Donor Spotlight: Atwood Foundation and Ira Perman

UAA's role in the Arts Community is "that of an educator. Beyond that, I believe that the University is also an incubator. The university is a great place to get an arts education, and it is a place that provides for our local music community, like the opera, the symphony, etc."


David Brooks event photo

David Brooks Event Recap

The College of Arts and Sciences hosted New York Times columnist and PBS Newshour commentator David Brooks at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts (PAC) for a College of Arts and Sciences Community Lecture on August 24th, 2023, with over 700 members of the Anchorage community in attendance at the event.