March 2012

Dear UAA community,

It's a busy time of year with the end of the semester nearing and Commencement on the horizon. This is a dynamic time in UAA's history as well. Candidates for dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education are visiting campus next month. Nationwide searches are well underway for deans of the School of Engineering and College of Health. We are also embarking on a nationwide search for our next provost and chief academic officer.

The chief academic officer is a critical position in any university. Mike Driscoll's leadership over the last six years has produced a momentum at UAA–including formation of the College of Health and UAA designated as University of Alaska's health university–that will serve this institution well into the future. It is our aim to build upon Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Driscoll's legacy as we look for UAA's next provost. Updates on the process are on the Chancellor's webpage.

After a great deal of consultation with members of the UAA community, I have appointed Dr. Elisha “Bear” Baker IV, dean of the College of Business and Public Policy, to serve as UAA's interim provost until a permanent provost is hired.


Taylor Rohde became the first UAA student-athlete ever to be named National Player of the Year. Seawolf women made it to the NCAA D-II Elite Eight  with Hanna Johansson becoming the winningest athlete in Seawolf history. UAA skiers finished 5th in the nation; men's and women's track & field teams are ranked in the top 15 in the preseason poll, and Seawolves are ranked 10th in the Learfield Sports Director's Cup–the highest ranking in UAA history. Go Seawolves!

Student Notes

MacKenzie Merrill, member of Mat-Su College's Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, is the national winner of the "Coca-Cola New Century" Scholarship. The honor society held its second annual banquet this month with Alaska cartoonist Chad Carpenter as the featured guest speaker.

Congratulations to Alan Massey on being selected for a U.S. Student Fulbright award for 2012-2013 to Germany.

UAA vs Stanford DebateSeawolf debaters, ranked 2nd among U.S. schools at the World Universities Debating Championships, sparred with 3rd-ranked Stanford, in Arts 150 on the topic of hate crime penalties. Stanford won the audience over with its argument for keeping added penalties, while the Seawolves, arguing against added penalties, showed the fierce competitive talent that keeps Seawolves among the top debate teams in the world. The debate was video-streamed live, while students Andrew Kerosky and Emi J. Barker live-tweeted and Electronic Media Specialist Kathleen McCoy live-blogged. Check out all of the coverage on the UAA vs. Stanford Debate blog.

Kent SpierKent Spiers, who is graduating with a bachelor degree in sociology and a minor in environmental studies, will be the student speaker at Anchorage campus 2012 commencement. Congratulations, Kent!


Faculty and Staff Notes

Jeff Welker received the Fulbright Distinguished U.S. Arctic Chair in Norway.

Dean Wes LundbergWes Lundburg, dean of instruction, is the interim president at Prince William Sound Community College (PWSCC).

Dalee Sambo Dorough, assistant professor of political science, was reappointed to the board of trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples.

Rhonda Johnson, chair of the Department of Health Sciences, is the new regional co-director of the Regional Collaborations Program (RCP) of the Institute for Translational Health Sciences based at the University of Washington. RCP stimulates translational research collaborations across the five-state WWAMI region.

Mouhcine Guettabi, a specialist in regional and urban economics and applied microeconomics, is joining the Institute of Social and Economic Research. Guettabi is currently with the Department of Economics and Legal Studies at Oklahoma State University.

Program Notes

ATTower Simulator

UFA INC. installed and commissioned an ATTower simulator at the UAA Aviation Technology Center. UAA is one of the five original College Training Initiative programs authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration and one of only 33 currently approved.

UAA's Military and Veteran Student Taskforce is examining and suggesting improvements to UAA services, programs, policies and issues affecting our active duty and veteran students and their families. UAA has more than 1,850 active duty military and veteran students enrolled this semester, the largest number in our history.

CTC Construction ManagementUAA’s associate and baccalaureate degree construction management programs have received initial accreditation from the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE). The programs, in the Community and Technical College’s Division of Construction and Design Technology, join a prestigious roster of ACCE-accredited schools, including the University of Washington, Washington State University, Oregon State University, Cal-Poly, Colorado State, Montana State, Weber State and many others providing high-quality construction education.

Kodiak College hosted the 7th annual Lilly Arctic Institute on Innovations & Excellence in Teaching, bringing together participants from a multitude of disciplines nationally and abroad to explore the theme, Celebrating the Soul and Passion of Teaching (& Learning).

Public Square Notes

UAA hosts the State Science Olympiad  this weekend, drawing 350 middle and high school students from Southcentral Alaska.

Kenai Peninsula College held its 6th annual Community Health Fair attracting more than 300 participants and 30 health exhibitors to campus.

Grants and Research notes

During the first 8.5 months of FY12 (July 2011–March 15, 2012), UAA received 249 awards totaling $32,397,305, which is more than 90 percent of the total awards received in FY11. Last year UAA received 315 awards totaling $35,456,394. The awards are in the areas of research, public service, instruction, academic support, student services, institutional support and scholarship/fellowship. Total awards do not reflect student financial aid money.

Significant awards in research include:

  • $228K awarded to Dr. Richard Brown II, a post-doctoral research fellow in the Institute of Circumpolar Health Studies.
  • $167K awarded to Dr. Diane King to support her work with diabetes.
  • Contracts in public service and instruction were awarded to Dr. Richard Kieffer O'Donnell ($324K), Dr. Beth Sirles ($215K), and Dr. Jackie Pflaum ($271K).

Development Notes

Bentwood hatThe Eyak Corporation donated $200K this year and last year, for a total of $400K, to enhance higher education programs for Eyak shareholders and residents of the Prince William Sound area.
(download PDF)

PWSCC's annual student scholarship fundraiser raised $33K, bringing the event's 20-year total to $500K in scholarship dollars.

The Estate of Elizabeth Tower made a stock donation valued at over $188K to support the Elizabeth Tower Endowment for Canadian Studies.

Innovation Note

PWSCC virtual lab

PWSCC Virtual Worlds Designer Don Bickley and Assistant Professor of Biology Julie Fronzuto's innovative Second Life distance laboratory learning placed first in the "Engaging Learning" focus area of the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge. PWSCC's virtual labs are helping students experience a real-time learning environment.

Safety Tip

With the thawing and freezing that comes with spring, be watchful of changing road and walkway conditions. Keep your Spikies and windshield fluid on hand.

Take Note

UAA is, for the second time (2012 and 2010), the only university in Alaska on President Obama's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This award recognizes UAA's role in solving community problems, placing students on a lifelong path of civic engagement and achieving meaningful measureable outcomes in our community.

CCEL retreatUAA's Center for Community Engagement and Learning is holding a retreat focused on building sustainable communities this month. (download PDF)

As a part of Shaping Alaska's Future 2017: New Directions for Higher Education and Workforce Development,  University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble invites you to  participate in one of the upcoming faculty/staff listening sessions  being held on UAA's campus on Monday, April 2. Click here to find a schedule of the sessions.

Be safe and enjoy all that UAA has to offer!


Tom Case

Tom Case