June 2012

Dear UAA Community,

We took advantage of some spectacular weather this June with campus barbecues and outdoor celebrations, including Juneteenth.

PWSCC Last Frontier Theatre Conference

Our flagship summer conferences, the 20th Annual Prince William Community College Last Frontier Theatre Conference and the 11th Annual Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, were a great success. Both events brought in nationally acclaimed artists who shared their talents with our students and the public.

ISER Scott GoldsmithOn June 30, Professor of Economics Scott Goldsmith retires after 37 years with the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER). Through his research and publications, Scott has made Alaska's economics understandable to a broad audience and helped decision makers plan for the future. His most recent publication, "Federal Spending in Alaska: Running Out of Steam? (PDF)," was reported on the front page of the Anchorage Daily News.

Seawolf athletes made program, team and individual history this year finishing No. 16 nationally in the final Leafield Sports Directors' Cup Div. II standings and winning Player/Athlete-of-the-Year honors in all seven of UAA's Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) sports.

UAA student athletes GNAC

The Seawolves boasted the GNAC's top performers in women's basketball (Hanna Johansson), men's basketball (Taylor Rohde), men's cross country (Micah Chelimo), women's cross country (Ruth Keino), men's outdoor track & field (Chelimo), women's outdoor track & field (Susan Tanui, co-winner) and volleyball (Jackie Matthisen). Taylor Rohde became the first Seawolf student-athlete ever to be awarded National Player-of-the-Year.

Innovation and entrepreneurship remain high priorities for UAA. I've accepted a seat on the Municipality of Anchorage's 49th State Angel Fund (49SAF) Advisory Committee. The fund, created by a federal allocation of $13.2M from the State Small Business Credit Initiative, will provide investments to early-stage high-growth businesses showing significant economic potential either through direct investments in Anchorage-based businesses or by taking a partnership interest in locally focused angel or venture capital funds. The 49SAF comes at a good time for UAA, as we organize to help commercialize technology based on faculty and student research. Watch a video of the presentation Dr. Helena Wisniewski, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, presented at the forum's last meeting.

Tuition note

UA President Gamble has discussed with me his  intention to propose a 2 percent increase in tuition for the 2013–2014  academic year. This modest increase mirrors the FY11 Consumer Price  Index and is 0.3 percent lower than the Higher Education Price Index for  the same year. I believe this signals a commitment to keep the cost of  higher education low for Alaskans.

The president's proposal will  be presented to the UA Board of Regents for consideration this  September. For the years in which the regents approved a tuition  increase, the proposed 2 percent increase for FY14 will be the lowest  increase in more than a decade.

Student notes

Jeff Requist, a sophomore in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program at UAA's Community and Technical College, has received an internship with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The internship is part of NASA's Student Career Experience Program. Read all of Jeff's story here.

Environment and Natural Resources Institute (ENRI) postdoctoral fellow Dr. Adam Csank won a 2nd place Student and Early Career Researcher Excellence Award in the Polar Regions and Linkages to Global Systems category for his poster, "Improving our understanding of high-arctic carbon cycling: Seasonal shifts in the age and source of riverine DOC and POC in NW Greenland."

UAA students receive Gilman ScholarshipThree UAA students were awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad for fall 2012 or academic year 2012-13:

  • Harold Huntington Jr.: Construction Management, $4,500, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Teslin Roys: Computer Science, $5,000, Norwich, England
  • Anna Winn: Psychology, $5,000, Stirling, Scotland

Alumni notes

The UAA Alumni Association's 2012 Alumni of Distinction are:

  • Alumni of Achievement: Carol Comeau, M.Ed. '86, L.LD. '07, Retired Superintendent, Anchorage School District
  • Alumni Humanitarian: Roald Helgesen, B.A. Political Science '94, CEO, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
  • Alumni Emerging Leader: Candace McDonald, B.B.A. '06, M.S. Global Supply Chain Management '08, Owner, Salmonberry Tours

Awards will be given at the 2012 Green and Gold Gala on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Anchorage Marriott Downtown. To renew your sponsorship, purchase a table or reserve individual seats for this scholarship benefit event, contact Betty Hernandez at bahernancez@uaa.alaska.edu or (907) 786-1733.

Program notes

Connecting with K-12 for Student Success

Twenty-two high school juniors and seniors interested in the medical profession have been accepted into the Della Keats Health Sciences Summer Program. Thanks to grants from Native American Research Centers for Health, Center for Addressing Health Disparities through Research and Education, New York Life, IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, a $10,000 donation from the Eyak Corporation and WWAMI, we have been able to provide this free program to six more students this year than last year. Ten students are Alaska Native. Other ethnicities represented are Latino, Samoan, Hmong, African (Ivory Coast), Chinese and Korean. Five of the 22 students are returning from last year to conduct research.

UAA Student Affairs is realigning existing programs, departments and resources to create an additional division to respond to the increasing demand for early outreach and successful transition of students through their first year of college.

Patience Merculief is taking the new position of rural student transition specialist within Enrollment Services. The position, five years in the making, is funded by the Eyak Corporation from Cordova. Read the full announcement here.

UAA Mat-Su Middle College ProgramUAA and Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District are establishing a new middle college option for Mat-Su high school students at UAA's Chugiak-Eagle River Campus. The Alaska Middle College School--scheduled to open in fall of 2012--will provide Mat-Su area high school students with a secondary school option to complete their high school diploma on a college campus. Read the full story here.

Civic engagement note

UAA is one of 25 colleges and universities chosen to be a part of the Campus & Community Civic Health Initiative. The goal is to create a set of nationally informed but locally developed civic health assessment tools that raise awareness, identify areas of civic health for improvement and identify strategies to advance areas of civic health together. At UAA, the Center for Community Engagement and Learning will engage students, faculty and community partners together in the creation of the toolkit and in measuring and improving the civic health of our campus and community.

Facilities, new building and construction notes

We cut the ribbon for the new $3.5M expansion of Snodgrass Hall on the Mat-Su College campus. Snodgrass Hall will support the paramedic and nurse training programs.

University of Alaska Board of Regents approved schematic design of the engineering buildings in Anchorage and Fairbanks, as well as the UAA Mat-Su Valley Center for Arts and Learning. Formal approval of the Main Apartment Complex (MAC) housing renewal at UAA was granted and the UAA campus master plan amended to include the engineering parking garage.

Research notes

ISER received $124,710 to study the impact of broadband on rural communities in Southwest Alaska. The research is sponsored by ConnectAlaska, with funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce under its State Broadband Planning initiative. The results will be provided to the State of Alaska's Broadband Task Force.

ISER researchers, working with colleagues at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, recently completed a study of the effects of the state Home Energy Rebate Program. The researchers found that about one in 10 homeowners in Alaska have benefitted from the program since 2008 and have reduced their home heating bills an average 26 percent. They also estimated that the program generates 12 Alaska jobs for every $1M of state spending. Read the analysis here (PDF).

ENRI faculty, research and students have more than 60 funded projects this summer throughout Alaska including: St. Lawrence Island; Toolik Lake; the Arctic Coastal Plain; Iliamna Lake; Lake Clark National Park; Dillingham; and the Selawik, Koyukuk, Innoko, and Nowitna National Wildlife Refuges. ENRI researchers gave nine presentations at the International Polar Year (IPY) 2012 Conference in Montreal (April 22-27). IPY 2012 brought together more than 2000 researchers, government officials, indigenous people, and others from around the world. Download a PDF copy of "ENRI in the Arctic" here.

Public square note

On June 5, 250 people attended a free public lecture on the Transit of Venus in the CPISB Planetarium. More than 700 people--including many children--looked through telescopes set up on the roof of the parking garage behind CPISB to view the Transit of Venus.

UAA will host the 2013 FIRST Tech Challenge High School Robotics State Championship next spring, March 7–9, 2013. This event will bring more than 300 Alaska high school students from around the state to showcase their robotics projects and compete.

Faculty and staff notes

UAA professor Dr. Robert KurzbanRobert Kurzban, Ph.D., will serve as the newest Rasmuson Chair of Economics in the College of Business and Public Policy. Dr. Kurzban is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and focuses on the nature of evolved cognitive adaptations for social life. He is the author of the book "Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite: Evolution & the Modular Mind" and founded the Penn Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology--or PLEEP--at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003.

Dr. Hiroko Harada, professor of Japanese, received a $97,878 grant from the Japan Foundation to help support activities of the Montgomery Dickson Center for Japanese Language and Culture at UAA. Monty Dickson, a former student of Dr. Harada, died in the March 2011 Tsunami in Japan.

Barbara Armstrong, editor of the Alaska Justice Forum, the quarterly research publication of the UAA Justice Center, was recently appointed to the board of directors of Partners for Progress, a nonprofit organization in Anchorage that supports therapeutic justice throughout Alaska's criminal justice system.

Dr. Marny Rivera, Justice faculty, was honored for her research in partnership with the Volunteers of America Alaska's Juvenile Alcohol Safety Action Program (JASP). JASP was selected as a Merit Finalist for the 2011 Community Partnership Award from the Mutual of America Foundation.

Kenai Peninsula College professor of biology Dr. David Wartinbee is the curator of the largest wildlife art show in Alaska, including more than 100 pieces from 48 artists from around the world, at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.

Margaret D. Stock Immigration Law and the MilitaryMargaret D. Stock, adjunct professor of political science, has published "Immigration Law and the Military" (Washington, DC: American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2012). Professor Stock is working with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on a proposal to increase the number of highly qualified scientists in Department of Defense research labs.

Sustainability and energy efficiency notes

Dining Services is going Styrofoam-less at the Commons in fall 2012. They will provide housing students re-usable plastic containers for their food, which students can return for cleaning in order to be issued a new one.

So far in FY12 we have recycled 20,908 tons of construction materials from the renovation of the old science building. In addition, by recycling 1,246 pounds of aluminum, 334 pounds of metals, 3,684 pounds of plastics, 220,431 pounds of paper and 19,556 pounds of cardboard, we've saved $7,725 in landfill fees of $63/ton.

Ameresco, a leading energy efficiency and renewable energy company, is partnering with UAA and UAS to conduct campus-wide energy audits to help identify opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades to decrease energy consumption and save money.

Development note

Our student Phonathon callers have raised $141K this year and are on track to raise $1M cumulatively in 2014. We are very proud of our Phonathon program and their outreach to alumni and friends. Thank you!

Take note

UAA Accolades spring/summer issue 2012 The Spring/Summer 2012 edition of the Accolades magazine is on the electronic newsstand. Pick up a copy and learn all about the financial side of higher education and how UAA stacks up!
Click here to download your copy of Accolades.

A final note

Now that summer is here, the roadways around Alaska are filled with the traffic of individuals wanting to see all of the beauty that Alaska has to offer. You might fish, hunt, hike or camp; whatever the activity, you will hopefully make the best of good weather and get out and dig into Alaska. Alaska is a big state with much to do, so make sure that you plan your time accordingly to allow plenty of time to get to your destination, and have plenty of rest before you get on the road.

Driver fatigue can be a serious safety risk and proper preparation can drastically reduce the likelihood of occurrence. First, make sure you get enough rest before you head out (8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep). Second, it's best to travel with more than one person so find yourself a wingman. Third, if you find yourself feeling the weight of your eyelids pulling you deep into a stupor or suddenly find yourself miles down the road with no recollection of how you got there, do the right thing and pull over. If you give yourself enough time, a short nap, walk or stretch can help stave off fatigue. Try not to fight fatigue with caffeine or other energy based drinks; the crash will only be that much greater. Fourth, think about the trip, what could go wrong and what some mitigation strategies are. "File a plan" let somebody know where you are going and when you are scheduled to return. Arrive alive!

Finally, have fun out there. Enjoy the summer and be safe!


Tom Case

Tom Case