April 2012

Dear UAA community,

All eyes are focused on wrapping up finals and, for more than 2,100 students, graduation is in sight. Congratulations to our entire UAA community on a job well done!

It's been a record-breaking year at UAA. Seawolf debaters moved into the top 10 (number 9!) in international standings for the first time. UAA became one of 11 universities nationwide selected to participate in VetSuccess on Campus program. Taylor Rohde--the Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year--is the first UAA student-athlete ever to be named National Player of the Year and Seawolves were ranked 10th in the Learfield Cup--the highest ranking in UAA history.

Across our campuses faculty are winning awards for innovative use of technology and e-learning; students are winning prestigious scholarships and grants; and let's not forget our facilities team that worked overtime this year clearing and stacking record-breaking snow and keeping the campus running safely.

Innovate Awards, established this year, are promoting research and entrepreneurship and our International and Intercultural Task Force successfully completed the American Council on Education's International Laboratory program and is moving forward. These key initiatives will help students, faculty and our community thrive and compete in the global marketplace.

The Anchorage campus is changing -- we broke ground for the new sports arena and this year the Legislature appropriated $58M to begin construction of the new engineering building.

As I look back over my first year as chancellor, I am very proud of our "Team UAA" and proud to be a Seawolf!

Student Notes

UAA Club Council Awards

Club Council, UAA's representative body of over 80 campus clubs, presented their annual Student Involvement Awards to the following clubs:

  • Student Club of the Year: Human Services Club
  • New Student Club of the Year: Video Gaming Club
  • Program of the Year: Tied between Heifer International for their Barn Dance and Student Veterans of UAA for Veterans Awareness Week
  • Student Leader of the Year: Kris Katkus, president of The Family and also Kris Americorps Volunteer
  • Advisor of the Year: Lexi Prunella advising The Family
  • Outstanding Community Service Program: Architecture and Engineering Club for work with Habitat for Humanity

Erick Romig, mentored by Dr. Patricia Fagan, was selected for a U.S. Student Fulbright award to Spain.

Arctic Engineering graduate student Ben Still received the URS Arctic Engineering Graduate Fellowship for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years ($50,000 total award).

Biology student Michelle Shero has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship, with a stipend rate of $30,000 per 12-month fellowship year, funded for a maximum of three years, plus tuition and fees. Michelle is UAA's first recipient of this fellowship.

Alan Massey received a U.S. Student Fulbright award for 2012-2013 to Germany.

MacKenzie Merrill, member of Mat-Su College's Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, is the national winner of the Coca Cola Scholarship.

Andrew Cochrane, School of Engineering student received the $2,000 OURS Discovery Award recognizing overall academic excellence including exceptional achievement in research or creative activities.

The team of Michael Allen Horton and Jonathon Gabriel Clark Stinson won the Department of Political Science's James Madison Cup competition on knowledge of the American Constitution.

Faculty and Staff Notes

Dr. Irasema Ortega, in the College of Education, received the Selkrigg Community Engagement and Service Learning Award for her project, "The Will of the Ancestors: A Framework for Culturally Responsive Science," which seeks to strengthen the existing partnership between the Kashunamiut School District and the College of Education.

Susan Mircovich, Kenai River Campus assistant professor of chemistry, has had her CHEM 103 online course selected as an exemplary course for the 2012 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program. Mircovich is the first UA faculty member to have a course selected for this international recognition.

Prince William Sound Community College Virtual Worlds Designer Don Bickley and Assistant Professor of Biology Julie Fronzuto's Second Life distance laboratory learning placed first in the "Engaging Learning" focus area of the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge.

Don Reardon, assistant professor in College Preparatory and Developmental Studies, was awarded a "Scholar in Residence" at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. This fellowship will be a part of research to go along with his Innovate Award.

The U.S. National Academies invited Dr. Lil Alessa, professor of biology and Environment & Natural Resources Institute (ENRI) Faculty Fellow, to participate in an NSF symposium, "Science, Innovation, and Partnerships for Sustainability Solutions" in Washington, D.C. Lil is among experts invited to examine Federal agency investments, outcomes and opportunities for funding research related to sustainability across disciplines, sectors and agencies.

Dr.Anthony Paris, associate professor of engineering, won the Faculty Exemplar Award for his work mentoring undergraduate research students. One of the groups which he mentored developed a spinal rod bender for that a patent application was filed.

Program Notes

UAA's associate and baccalaureate degree Construction Management programs received initial accreditation from the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE). The programs, in UAA's Community and Technical College's Division of Construction and Design Technology, join a prestigious roster of ACCE accredited schools providing high-quality construction education.

UAA Human Services Department and Job Corps have established an agreement allowing students enrolled in Job Corps Human Service Career Path Program to concurrently earn selected Human Service credits.

Kenai Peninsula College's (KPC) Anchorage Extension Site process technology team, led by Assistant Professor Rick Adams, took first place in the National Science Foundation's "Developing Students' Troubleshooting Skills in Energy Programs" national competition. Student members of the team included: Daniel Christianson, Alex Kight and Neil Richardson. The KPC team will travel to Washington, D.C., in October to attend a two-day NSF-sponsored conference on simulation and troubleshooting.

Public Square Notes

AQR Barbara Davidson   AQR Ben Spatz

"Liberty & Justice (For All)" global photo mosaic Pulitzer Prize-winning contributor Barbara Davidson and special feature editor Benjamin Spatz speak about the Alaska Quarterly Review 30th Anniversary issue on April 18, 2012.

More than 250 people attended Alaska Quarterly Review's 30th Anniversary book launch highlighting "Liberty & Justice (For All)," a global photo mosaic featuring 68 of the world's most acclaimed photojournalists. "Liberty & Justice (For All)" is receiving national attention and will be the subject of a major exhibit in New York City in May and June. Visit the National Endowment for the Arts  and Gallery VII  websites for additional information.

KPC's Kachemak Bay Campus hosted a College, Career and Job Fair in Homer on April 6. Approximately 350 attendees spoke with more than 20 employers and heard presentations on Alaska's high-growth jobs, apprenticeship opportunities and how to pay for college.

Telling Amy's Story at UAA

UAA and Verizon partnered for the showing of "Telling Amy's Story" for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The public events included a panel of experts from UAA's Justice Center, the Alaska Native Justice Center, Anchorage Police Department, University Police Department, AWAIC and STAR.

US Senator Mark Begich at UAA

Senator Mark Begich met with students at USUAA's "Sundaes with the Senator" program on April 12. The Student Union upper lounge was filled with students, faculty and staff who heard the senator discuss the legislative priorities for Alaska and the university.

KPC's Kenai River Campus and neighboring Alaska Christian College co-hosted the 4th annual regional Alaska Native Oratory Society. The two colleges have collaborated in many ways for the last 10 years.

KPC's Anchorage Extension Site-based Occupational Safety & Health and Process Technology programs hosted their first Professional and Internship Event Day [P.I.E. Day] at the University Center. The successful event was planned, coordinated and executed by the Anchorage Alaska Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers-Student Section.

Public Relations Note

Mat-Su College is the recipient of the 27th annual Merit Educational Advertising Award, the largest educational advertising awards competition in the country, for its "Spring Registration" newspaper ad.

Grants and Research Note

The Justice Center was awarded a contract by the Alaska Department of Corrections to design an evaluation strategy for Fairbanks' domestic violence probationer pilot project.

Kodiak College microbiology students worked with the Marine Advisory Program in a pilot study geared toward developing a community monitoring program for paralytic shellfish poisoning in Kodiak. The students will present their research at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Center April 5.

Development Notes

UAA Scholarship Luncheon

Theresa Cho was one of three student speakers who told donors the impact of their scholarship support. Scholarship students and their faculty mentors thanked donors who provided a total of $694,000 this year. Donor generosity provided 435 students with 562 scholarships (some received more than one). Thank you.

Northrim bank supports UAA

Northrim Bank contributed $50,000 to UAA's Small Business Development Center and $125,000 to the ISER Economic and Fiscal Policy Model, bringing their contribution to work being done by ISER's Scott Goldsmith to $500,000.

The Atwood Foundation made a $200,000 pledge payment to the Robert B. Atwood Chair of Journalism.

Alaska Kidney Foundation Inc. gave a gift of $30,303 to support the Alaska Kidney Foundation Scholarship.

ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. made a $2,2M pledge payment in support of the ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering Endowment Fund.

The Estate of John Russell Gay contributed $19,325 to the John Russell Gay Memorial Science Scholarship.

International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economy contributed two gifts totaling $26,595 to CBPP Experimental Economics Laboratory General Support.

Accident Report Notes

There were seven injuries reported during the month of March. The two most serious were: a plumber requiring stitches to a cut thumb and, at the Mat-Su Community Campus, an employee hit his/her head after slipping on ice in the parking lot. There were three additional slips and falls on ice (none of the employees were wearing Spikies--which may not eliminate a fall, but does provide increased traction). A misstep on a stair at Kodiak College caused a fall. Finally, a fall was linked to unloading recycling materials into a dumpster. The incident investigation revealed a hazardous practice of climbing into the dumpster to compact recyclable materials. At no time should entry into a dumpster occur. Better loading and compacting methods were discussed with the lead of the recycling crew.

Safety Tip: The Alaska Legislature's passage of the bill to ban texting while driving in Alaska as a matter of public safety is a good reminder to focus on driving when you drive. Technology has allowed people to multitask but science has shown our focus is linear. Cell phone use while driving also increases the potential for serious injury to you and others. Please review this link on the AT&T website to make you a believer.

Take Note

UAA says farewell to Provost Mike Driscoll

Faculty and staff gathered to thank Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mike Driscoll for his years of service to UAA and surprised him with a group "chicken dance."

Enjoy the great spring weather and be safe!


Tom Case

Tom Case