May 2015


Seawolves Basketball ranked No. 1

Dear Community,

I can hardly believe we're in the final days of the semester and that our first spring campus Commencement ceremony is this Sunday in the Alaska Airlines Center (AAC). Between the two ceremonies—one in December and one in May—more than 1,000 students will have walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and certificates this academic year. This increase in attendees (20 percent!) is a great sign that an on-campus ceremony is particularly meaningful for our students.

I'm happy to share with you the news that Dr. Fred Barlow will be joining our team as the new College of Engineering dean on July 15. Dr. Barlow comes to UAA from the University of Idaho, where he's served as a professor and director of the University of Idaho's Next Generation Microelectronics Research Center. We've also had a change in leadership in the College of Education (COE); Dr. Paul Deputy joined UAA as the interim dean for COE on April 14. Dr. Deputy has most recently served as dean of the College of Education and Human Service Professions at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Please join me in welcoming these new leaders to our campus.

UAA hosted a live-streaming watch party last week for the passing of the Arctic Council Chairmanship from Canada to the U.S. As the only Arctic state in the nation, Alaska will play a big role in the two-year chairmanship. Former Chancellor Fran Ulmer—and current advisor to the State Department on Arctic Issues—addressed the faculty, staff, students and community members who attended the event. We expect UAA's researchers and students who work on issues pertaining to the Arctic to be particularly engaged in Alaska's support of the Arctic Council Chairmanship.

Last Friday, UAA joined UAF, UAS and UA Statewide in announcing furloughs for our leadership-level employees in FY16. I, along with the other chancellors, believe this is the right thing to do given the budget shortfall  the university is facing in FY16. We expect the leadership-level furlough to save UAA about $270,000 in operating expenses next fiscal year. With the magnitude of this shortfall, we know  programs and services at UAA will be affected. The most painful repercussion of such a significant funding gap is that people will be impacted. However, I want to assure you, we are doing the best we can to minimize the severity of that impact on our current employees and our students.

In March and April, we held three open budget forums on campus. Podcasts from those forums are available to download. We have one final budget open forum scheduled for Friday, May 15, 1-2:30 p.m. in the Lew Haines Meeting Room, Library 307. I encourage you to attend. Though the budget has not yet been finalized, we hope to know more by mid-May.

Though it's easy to focus on the difficult news of the budget, I'd like to encourage all of you to remember  UAA is an amazing university with truly outstanding faculty, staff and students. The celebrations happening around campus this week are great reminders of the incredible work we are doing for our community and state.

Thank you for all you do.

Best regards,

Tom Case

Athletics Notes

Track & Field athlete Cody Thomas, of Blenheim, New Zealand, won the Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year Award for 2014-2015. Eleven student-athletes representing all 13 of UAA's intercollegiate sports were nominated for the honor. Nominees were Sean Alexander, Karolin Anders, Henry Cheseto, Amy Johnston, Mackenzie Kanady, Olivier Mantha, M'rcy Matsunami, Megan Mullings, Thomas, Travis Thompson and Katelynn Zanders.

UAA track athletes bagged school records recently at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif. Senior Haleigh Lloyd set a school and Great Northwest Athletic Conference record with her time of 59.20 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles, slashing .42 of a second off her previous school and GNAC mark and provisionally qualifying her for the national meet. Sophomore Jamie Ashcroft's provisional qualifier of 24.08 seconds knocked .16 of a second off Grace Morgan's 2013 school record and gives Ashcroft UAA records outdoors at 100 and 200 meters and indoors at 60 and 200 meters. Nathan Kipchumba clocked 1:50.56 in the 800 to knock .69 of a second off his personal best, break the school record by .20 of a second and seize a provisional qualifier.

Former two-time Alaska Player of the Year Keiahnna Engel told the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog Friday that she is transferring from Division I Boise State and will play her final season of college basketball for UAA's Division II women's basketball powerhouse.

Twenty-two Seawolf student-athletes will earn their undergraduate degrees when Spring Commencement exercises take place May 3 at the Alaska Airlines Center. In the past year, UAA has produced 65 academic all-conference awards and an Academic All-American in basketball senior Travis Thompson, who is among the impending graduates.

Achievement Notes

Alaska oratory society event at UAA

UAA hosted the Alaska Native Oratory Society's statewide storytelling event, "Let Your Spirit Speak: Finding our Voices." The event was featured in the Alaska Dispatch News on April 11.

UAA recently hosted the prestigious US Universities Debating Championship; this was the first time the premier national college debate tournament has been held in Alaska. Teams from Stanford, Tufts and Cornell were among those that took part. UAA debaters Jonathon Taylor and Matthieu Ostrander advanced to the quarterfinals in the competition before being eliminated. Harvard, Yale, Brown and Morehouse made it to the finals and Yale took the top honor. Alaska Dispatch News featured a front-page article about the event.

Approximately 40 students took part in the 2015 Undergraduate Research Symposium at UAA, which featured a keynote speech by NASA astronaut Dr. Tracy Caldwell-Dyson, a poster fair, research presentations and awards ceremony.

                                                                        UAA's Justice department heads up fraud research

UAA's Justice for Fraud Victims Project has investigated 13 cases and identified $1,444,460 in alleged embezzlements since starting its work at UAA nearly four years ago, Soren Orley, the UAA College of Business & Public Policy professor who helped launch UAA's program, said recently.

Student Notes

Xavier Mason

Xavier Mason will be student speaker at the Spring 2015 Commencement ceremony May 3. Mason is a Truman Scholar finalist graduating with bachelor's degrees in management and marketing. He is a UAA College of Business & Public Policy Leadership Fellow with a passion for social entrepreneurship. He is also a founding father of the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter at UAA and serves as president of the NAACP Youth Council, board member of the Chessed Alaska religious nonprofit in Anchorage, and belongs to the membership committee of the Alaska World Affairs Council.

Tesia Forstner

Tesia Forstner won the Fran Ulmer Transformative Research Award for her research into the migration and diet ecology of the black turnstone, an Alaska shorebird.

Mark Alday, Sarah Cain, Daniel Quinlan, Kolaiah Baker and Anna Hamre won Alaska Heart Institute grants. Alday studied interferon responses in HIV latency; Cain researched the effects of antibiotics and diet on body composition of arctic ground squirrels; Quinlan investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of Labrador tea extract in a certain type of white blood cell that cleans bacteria and other cellular debris from the body and Baker and Hamre advanced the design of an ergonomic wireless instrumented mouthguard-helmet that will be used to study impacts that cause concussions in athletes.

Cyrus Mogadam won the Dr. Alex Hills Engineering Research Award for his design and fabrication of a masonry heater specifically for use in rural Alaska.

2015 Chancellor's Awards

During these challenging times, it's particularly uplifting to be able to recognize the efforts of faculty and staff listed here who demonstrate commitment to achieving excellence in all we do here at UAA:

  • Excellence in Teaching:
  • Dr. Heather B. Adams: "Dr. Adams, in her first couple of years, was teaching three different preparations each semester, in face to face, hybrid and online delivery formats. She maintained her composure, innovated and collaborated with a characteristic mindfulness that she brings to her role as teacher."

    Kristin Knudsen: "Professor Knudsen sets the standard for excellence in teaching. Rather than relying on instructor's manuals or canned online resources, in every exercise she prepares for students, she carefully crafts an original problem that incorporates Alaska-specific legal rules as well as actual case studies from Alaska practice."

    Dr. Claudia Lampman: "Dr. Lampman's high standards, thoughtful delegation, and leadership of the psychology department through the priorization process not only aided future psychology students but UAA students in general. The University Honors College has recognized her for her excellent mentorship and support of undergraduate research."

  • Excellence in Academic Research/Creative Activity:
  • Sherry Simpson: "She is exacting on research, as is evidenced by her most recent book, Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska, which won the John Burroughs Medal. As a professor, she excels. All students who work with her adore her. She questions rather than explains, leading students to their own answers."

    Dr. Brad Myrstol: "Dr. Myrstol is one of the Justice Center's most productive researchers. He is recognized for his expertise in community-based participatory research and his knowledge of sophisticated statistical modeling. He is also increasingly recognized for his emerging expertise in conducting research in tribal communities and makes important contributions to our education and service missions."

  • Promoting Student Achievement:
  • Dr. Johnathon Bartels (faculty award): "Dr. Bartels continually challenges students to think of real-world applications for the theories, ideas and tools they learn about in his courses. He partnered with six students to write and receive a grant to fund flying the students out to a village school in the Lake and Peninsula School District. He had the opportunity to teach lessons in the Newhalen school as well and interact with the students on a one-on-one basis."

    Dr. Ryan-Jasen Anders Henne (staff award): "Dr. Henne proposed that each resident advisor on campus be required to have a face-to-face conversation with each resident at least three times a semester. Students have private rooms that allow them to retreat from others, especially if they do not have a community of support at the institution. This approach allows staff members to make connections with students and refer them to resources as necessary, contributing to outstanding student achievement and higher completion rates among residential students."

  • Staff Excellence:
  • Josephine Didiano: "Didiano, circulation manager for the Mat-Su College library, gets books into the hands of people who want to read them. 'It's almost like her brain is a database just like the one in our computer,' her nominator wrote. 'If something's overdue, Jo knows about it. If somebody has a fine, Jo knows about it. And if something's missing, you'd better believe Jo knows about it.'"

  • Diversity:
  • Dr. Jeane Breinig: "Her knowledge of academia and UAA is impressive and her support of our undergraduate students is immeasurable. She volunteers her time and services to ensure the success of our undergraduate students, addresses innovative ways of teaching and research and has helped foster indigenous and Alaska Native courses and course delivery at UAA."

  • Community Engagement and Service:
  • Sheila Randazzo (staff award): "Sheila works to partner with organizations to improve services to students and improve process at UAA. The best example of this is an annual event she developed to promote financial aid opportunities for Alaska Native and rural students and develop a network among funding agencies, schools and university-wide departments."

    Dr. Polly Bass (faculty award): "Dr. B. built a rain garden on our campus. It is a model for possibility and a living laboratory. Dr. B. cares about what she does and does it well. As a student, I know she cares about us and that makes a difference. Her sense of responsibility for the planet and environment is an inspiration."

  • Stewardship:
  • Safety, Maurice Riner (individual): "Maury takes the job very seriously and put a lot of his own efforts and time into it. From a financial standpoint—and who isn't concerned with that nowadays?—maintaining [the university's EPA status of Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator] is a $250,000-$500,000 cost savings to the university. Much of what Maury does is done quietly and behind the scenes; hardly anybody else on campus knows or appreciates his labors. I would like, if only for a brief moment, to spotlight him and let everybody know what he does for this university."

    Operational Effectiveness, the iAdvise Project Team (large team award): "This new resource allows UAA faculty and academic advisors to access important student demographic and academic information on one centralized UAOnline screen. The team represents contributions from Dr. Bruce Schultz, Dr. Lacy Karpilo, Mayra Lopez-Gonzalez, Cathy Ewing, Sandy Gravley, Meredith McIntire, Rocky DeGarmo, Marie Samson, Carey Brown, Cricket Watt, Younger Oliver, Debra Ginsburg, Elizabeth Shine, Jennifer Headrick and Amy Michels. The team includes members of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, as well as Mat-Su College."

    Sustainability: Tree Campus USA (small team award): "The Tree Campus Advisory Committee meets regularly to discuss requirements of Tree Campus USA, a program developed by Arbor Day Foundation to help colleges and universities in the U.S. establish and sustain healthy community forests. UAA's team members include Dr. Paula Williams, Patricia Joyner, Catherine Shenk, Mel Monsen, Glenn Brown, Dr. E. Jamie Trammell, Dr. Mark Wolbers and Ryan Hunte."

Dr. Claudia Lampman, Dr. Jeane Breinig, Dr. Polly Bass and Tree Campus USA.

We applaud and thank these members of our UAA family for all they do to strive for excellence, reach out to students and set an example of achievement in our community.

College Notes

Starting this fall, UAA will offer a doctorate of nursing practice, which will be the first doctorate degree offered exclusively through UAA.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities recently approved the three-year degree program, allowing UAA to proceed with recruitment and admissions for fall 2015.

The program builds on UAA's existing School of Nursing associate, baccalaureate and master's degrees. Given recent changes in healthcare delivery, occupations within the workforce are changing, and new ones are emerging. UAA's move is on trend with the Lower 48, where universities are adding this new layer to advanced practice nurse training—in-depth knowledge of health policy that empowers graduates to advocate for healthcare system improvements.

UAA offers several doctorate degrees through partnerships with other universities; however, the doctorate of nursing is the first doctorate available solely through UAA.

Kenai Peninsula College's process technology program has received certification and endorsement from the North American Process Technology Alliance and is one of only 17 colleges in the nation to receive this endorsement.

Faculty and Staff Notes

The recent 2nd-annual UAA Faculty Showcase celebrated the university faculty's varied research, innovation and creative accomplishments, giving them an opportunity to take part in a poster fair and deliver presentations, lectures, demonstrations and performances.

Tesia Forstner

Creative Writing and Literary Arts faculty member Sherry Simpson was featured in the April 14 edition of the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ interviewed Simpson on her new book about living with Alaska's bears.

Scientific American recently featured an article by Dr. Herb Schroeder and Beth Spangler about the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) on its Voices blog, which explores and celebrates diversity in science

Tesia Forstner

The New Yorker recently featured "The Tallest Trophy," an article highlighting UAA Anthropology Professor Emeritus Steve Langdon's research related to a 29-foot Tlingit memorial pole, a Honolulu museum and actors John Barrymore and Vincent Price.