August 2008

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The start of a new semester is always exciting as students return to campus and the parking lots fill. Walking from one end of campus to the other and seeing the enthusiasm of the students makes us understand the importance of the work we are all doing.

Faculty and staff, I hope you will take time out of busy days to connect with students with a smile. Please talk with them about their interests and help them feel welcome at UAA.

Students, I hope that you will get involved in campus activities and make your years here memorable, meaningful, fun and productive!

This is an incredible time to be at UAA. This fall we welcomed our largest freshman class ever. Students, their friends and family, and faculty joined us for our 4th Annual Freshman Convocation on August 23 to hear world renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and to participate in Campus Kick-off.

We are growing to meet our students' needs. During the year you will see work begin on a new athletic facility and health complex. On September 8 we will dedicate the new Betti Cuddy atrium at the Lucy Cuddy Center. And this time next year the ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building will open.

Not only are we expanding our campus to serve our students' educational needs and Alaska's workforce needs, we are developing partnerships with the community. We are working with the U-Med district to help provide for Alaska's health care workers; working with the engineering industry to help provide expanded educational opportunities for engineers in Alaska; and partnering with other Alaska industries -- oil and gas, construction, to name just two -- to fill workforce needs.

Our partnership with APU is one of just 26 projects in the nation to receive a Difficult Dialogues Grant from the Ford Foundation. The result, "Start Talking: A Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education," will be distributed to all faculty and help us all learn how to promote civil discourse on difficult topics.

One of my goals for the coming semester is to hear more from you. Let me know what is going on; your concerns, your hopes and goals for your time at UAA. If you see me walking through campus or sitting in the Cuddy having lunch, please feel free to come up and chat. I want to hear from you!

This fall we plan to hold our first "Chat with the Chancellor." Please let me know topics you'd like to talk about by writing to me at And stay tuned for the time and place of our first "Chat with the Chancellor." I look forward to seeing you!

Q: How is Alyeska Pipeline bringing UAA closer to an endowed chair in ANSEP?
A: Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is providing $500,000 over five years' time toward endowing a chair for the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program. Alyeska is the first donor to step up to the $2 million Rasmuson challenge grant for the ANSEP endowed chair. Once fully funded, the endowment will create a full-time, year-round faculty member dedicated to advancing science and engineering opportunities for Alaska Native students.




Q: What is Big Wild Orientation?
A: It's the wildly successful pilot program that took 10 students and 4 staff on an 8-day wilderness canoe trip through the Swan Lake Canoe system on the Kenai Peninsula from August 15-22. "The best week ever. The trip was awesome, the talks were great, the scenery was beautiful, and the people were great fun," one student said. Led by T.J. Miller, Recreation & Activities Coordinator along with Manch Garhart, Molly Liston and Brandy Taylor, students had a chance to bond and develop friendships.

Q: What happened at the Ed Peace Memorial Scholarship auction?
A: Marcia Fischer organized the auction with help from Ed's students John Berg, Ben Prossick, Kaeley Campbell and Heather Heuser, along with Interim Dean Sandra Carroll-Cobb, Craig "Chip" Defendorf, Gary Holland, Kelly Smith, Chief Dale Pittman, Lt. Rick Shell, Heidi Barrett, and Shawn Heuser. Their efforts netted approximately $8,350, just over the amount needed to fully endow the $25,000 Ed Peace Memorial Scholarship. As many of you know, Ed Peace passed away in May after serving many years as a dedicated teacher in Automotive Diesel Technology. He is missed by all of us and we are delighted that this scholarship will continue to serve students in his absence. Thank you to all of you who have helped make the Ed Peace Memorial Scholarship a success!

Q: How is UAA partnering with Cook Inlet Regional Inc. to prepare CIRI shareholders for jobs at Alaska's first Target store in the new Tikahtnu Commons?
A: UAA partnered with CITC -- a subsidiary non-profit of CIRI -- to help shareholders and Alaska Native job seekers prepare for a job fair held by Target this spring. Target will be opening in October at Tikahtnu Commons, a $100 million-plus project including 12-15 major retail stores and a total of 60-75 business on CIRI land in northeast Anchorage. UAA's Mat-Su College provided two weeks of training in handling money, customer relations, customer service, and resolving conflict. CITC provided additional job counseling, including resume preparation to attendees. A good number of those who applied got jobs with Target. Congratulations!

The UAA/CITC partnership is the result of an educational services agreement between University of Alaska Statewide Corporate Programs (UACP) and Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC). Under this agreement CITC requests training services and UACP works with the university to fulfill their needs.

Q: Why did UAA students and faculty travel to Tromso, Norway and Tatabanya, Hungary this summer?
A: Professors Mara Kimmel and Kimberly Pace along with six of their students traveled to Tromso and Tatabanya to talk with city officials and learn how these communities are dealing with climate change. The goal of their project is to take what they've learned on their trip and work with the Municipality of Anchorage to develop a climate action plan. In addition, they are working to develop an on-going student exchange with the UArctic, Municipality of Tromso, and University of Tromso to provide opportunities for civic engagement in Anchorage and in our sister city, Tromso, Norway.


UAA coaches


Q: What were UAA coaches doing with the Chancellor on Aug. 15?
A: We wanted to honor our coaches for one of our winningest seasons ever last year. Both the women's and men's basketball teams made it to the final four in the NCAA Div.II finals. That hasn't happened in our Division for more than 20 years. But it wasn't just our basketball teams that were so successful, it was all of our athletic teams including Track & Field, Hockey, Gymnastics, and Skiing. We presented our coaches with watches, just a small token, for all their hard work and we wish all our coaches and student athletes much success in the coming year. Go Seawolves!

Q: How are UAA grads helping our state plan for the future?
A: Just one example is Amy Goodwin, a graduate of the UAA Logistics program, who is working with the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation as the Logistics and International Trade Coordinator. Amy began as an intern at AEDC and was promoted to her current position this month. She replaced Hallie Bissett, another UAA Logistics grad who is now working for BP. Congratulations to Amy and Hallie!

Q: Where do IBM technology and Alaska's storytellers meet?
A: On LitSite Alaska ( The interactive Web site with a wealth of information, insights and stories about the history, diversity, culture and traditions of Alaskans is bringing Native language and stories to life using IBM cutting-edge technology. Over 1,000 pages of text have been enhanced with audio files, using IBM WebSphere Voice Server text-to-speech software. A project of UAA and the Alaska Literary Consortium, LitSite Alaska is working to teach the software proper pronunciation of Alaska Native names and words such as KwaashKiKwaan, Tlinget, and Inupiaq.

Did you know:

  • As of August 29, UAA students have received $21.6 million in grants, loans and scholarships
  • More than 475 students have registered to vote through the UAA Votes campaign. If you haven't registered yet, please contact the Dean of Students office in the Student Union or go to Please remember, in order to vote in the November election you must register at least 30 days before election day.

As always, thank you for all you do to make this a great university!


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