Dear colleagues, students and friends:
Welcome to the new academic year! I am truly inspired by the energy and excitement on campus, and I am proud to have been a part of the weekend's celebratory activities. It was wonderful to see so many new students and their parents at Freshman Convocation on Saturday. I also enjoyed talking with many of you while I scooped ice cream during Campus Kick-Off.
There are so many events taking place on campus this fall, two of note include the Seawolf Sports Arena Celebration and the Health Sciences Building grand opening.
Earlier this month we opened the new Health Sciences Building in time for students to use the facility for fall classes. The official grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 7. Please come by and see this spectacular state-of-the-art building. As the "health campus" for the UA system, this building represents the first in a series of facilities planned for UAA--Alaska's hub of interdisciplinary health education.
New employee notes
Please help me welcome some new members of the UAA team:
Dr. Maria Williams has been appointed director of the Alaska Native Studies Program with a joint faculty position in the Department of Music. Dr. Williams comes to us from her post as associate professor jointly appointed in the departments of Music and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico.
Dr. Fred Rainey has been appointed director of Biological Sciences. Dr. Rainey comes to UAA from his position as Gregory Cannaday Burns Professor of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University where he also served as associate dean in the College of Basic Sciences from 2004 to 2008.
Dr. Annie Ping Zeng has been appointed director of the Confucius Institute. Dr. Zeng comes to us from her most recent position as a research associate at the Confucius Institute, Michigan State University, where she directed the Chinese teacher certification program.
Dr. Helena S. Wisniewski has accepted the position of Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies (VPRGS) and Dean of the Graduate School at UAA. She will hold the rank of Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business and Public Policy. Dr. Wisniewski comes to UAA with an incredible breadth of experience, having worked for the federal government, in higher education and in private industry. Most recently, Dr. Wisniewski served as the Chairman/CEO for Equinox Toys LLC, a company she founded in 2009.
Eric Pedersen has joined UAA's team as the new Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management. Mr. Pedersen has more than 20 years of progressively responsible experience in recruitment, admissions, enrollment management and financial aid, including an executive cabinet level position. Most recently, he served as the dean of Enrollment Management at Saint Martin's University.
Student achievement notes
Vivian Faith Prescott of Sitka and Kodiak, Heather Lende of Haines and Joan Wilson of Anchorage were awarded the Jason Wenger Award for Literary Excellence from the University of Alaska Anchorage for their individual graduate theses and creative work. The award honors Jason Wenger, a graduate student in UAA's MFA program who was shot and killed in December 2007 in Anchorage. Jason was one semester away from receiving his M.F.A. His degree was awarded posthumously to his parents.
Eight Alaska Anchorage track & field athletes received U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic status recognizing that they've maintained a 3.25 cumulative grade point average and have met an NCAA automatic or provisional qualifying mark in an individual or relay event.
Faculty and staff success notes
College of Business and Public Policy faculty members Bogdan Hoanca and Kenrick Mock received a patent on July 26, 2011, for "Methods and Systems for Multiple Factor Authentication Using Gaze Tracking and Iris Scanning." The patent is about a new way to authenticate identity on computers, using eye-related information instead of entering a password (which can be stolen or forgotten). This invention would be useful commercially when eye-related information is combined with other techniques that deal with the way the user is recognized on instruments such as smart phones or tablets.
Renee Carter-Chapman, UAA senior vice provost, won the 2011 Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence.
Bob McDonnell, former director of General Support Services, has been promoted to director of Business Services.
J. Ellen McKay, professor in the Architecture and Engineering Technology Program, received the Construction Woman of the Year Award from the Alaska Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction.
LuAnn Piccard, assistant professor of Engineering Management and chair of Project Management, received funding from the Governor's Office to complete a State of Alaska Election Process Review.
UAA Department of History Professor Elizabeth James' article, "'Hardly a Family is Free From the Disease': Tuberculosis, Health Care, and Assimilation Policy on the Nez Perce Reservation, 1908-1942," appears in the summer 2011 issue of Oregon Historical Quarterly.
Both UAA cross-country running squads are ranked in the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association preseason poll, released last week. The women's team entered the poll at No. 5, while the men's team sits at No. 12.
New Student Orientation attendance has increased eight percent over last year to date, with 268 attending July 18--Aug. 4, with 900 total registered so far for sessions through the end of August.
Governor Parnell thanked UAA for adding "The Safe Side," presented by Abused Women Aid in Crisis and Standing Together Against Rape to educate new students on laws relating to sexual assault and drinking alcohol.
Community campus notes
Palmer City Council unanimously approved the exchange of 5.3 acres of Matanuska-Susitna College property for a road and city water service to the campus. The City of Palmer will spend several million dollars on the project and it should be complete by Dec. 1, 2015. The project gives the city a key site for their long term water system needs and provides the university access to a reliable water system for long-term needs.
Kenai Peninsula College Professor Jeff Laube's Process Technology 101 class is the first distance class in the University of Alaska system to be certified by the national Quality Matters (QM) program. QM is a national faculty-centered, peer review process.
Grants, awards and contracts notes
UAA received 25 awards totaling more than $4.2 million between July 26 and August 3, 2011.
UAA is among 21 colleges and universities receiving funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to assist in preventing suicide and enhancing mental health services for students in crisis. The grant--$306,000--will go toward training programs and seminars for students and campus personnel as well as promoting the National Suicide Prevention lifeline.
Health-care spending in Alaska reached about $7.5 billion in 2010, according to new estimates by Scott Goldsmith of ISER and Mark Foster of Mark A. Foster and Associates. For comparison, that's close to half the wellhead value of all the oil produced in Alaska in 2010. The definition of health-care spending is broad, including not only spending for hospitals, doctors and medical tests, but also prescriptions, nursing homes, medical equipment and more. Read the full story here.
Campus is bustling with vehicles and people now that the semester is in full swing. Please pay close attention while in your vehicle to pedestrians and cyclists that may be in your vicinity. More than 17,000 students, faculty and staff are on UAA's Anchorage campus; this makes for busy intersections, parking lots, crosswalks and sidewalks.
Save the dates!
Thanks for all you do to help make UAA a great university. Have an enjoyable, safe and productive semester!