April 2011

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Dear friends and colleagues,

This is my last FAQ. I started writing these, shortly after becoming chancellor, in an effort to improve communication about what's happening at UAA. There is always so much happening. It's hard to keep these short, but hopefully you've found them useful. As always, you will find a wide variety of topics, awards and recent events.

The biggest UAA event of the year is Sunday, Commencement. UAA will confer more degrees to more graduates than ever before. Our 2,270 students, receiving 2,240 certificates and degrees represent many hours of dedicated work on the part of the students, staff, administrators and our community partners. It's a team effort -- and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on this team for the past four years.

The growing number of graduates and degrees earned on our Anchorage campus as well as campuses in Kenai, Mat-Su, Prince William Sound and Kodiak, is just one indication of the enormous impact UAA is having in Alaska. Workforce training and education, research, policy analysis and community engagement at UAA are contributing to Alaska's future economic and social growth.

UAA debaters are ranked 11th in the world, our students receive Truman and Marshall scholar awards, our athletes are nationally and internationally ranked, our faculty members serve on national and international commissions and collaborate with partners throughout the world. What we do at UAA has application and influence far beyond Alaska's borders.

Classrooms for Climate conference

Please take a moment to look at the schedule of the Classrooms for Climate conference schedule. There are many exciting events you will want to participate in.

As friends and colleagues, you know UAA's story is remarkable.

We are a young university, less than 60 years old, and we are growing. I am thrilled that on my last Friday as chancellor I can announce the news: UAA is expanding with the purchase of a key piece of land at the corner of Lake Otis and Providence Drive. It is Alaska Mental Health Trust Land that was offered for sale, and UAA was the successful bidder. This will be a prime corner parcel where UAA can build a signature building at the entrance to campus. Another investment in UAA's future! Although I pass the mantle of chancellor to Tom Case on Sunday, and retire at the end of May, I will continue to tell UAA's story and support its progress.

ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building Tour

CPISB tour

Brian Quinlan talks with Sen. Murkowski about his undergraduate research on arctic ground squirrels and Alaska marmots

From incoming Chancellor Case:

This week Senator Lisa Murkowski visited the ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building. She was impressed with the level of undergraduate, graduate and post-doc nationally significant research being conducted. The facility is helping UAA recruit and develop great faculty and build a culture of research that is providing expanded opportunities for our undergraduate students.

The senator peeked into the Planetarium while a group of students from Chugiak were watching a show. We couldn't have planned this better -- showing how we are providing K-12 students fun and informative ways of learning about science while encouraging them to think about going to college at UAA.

Kim Peterson led an informative tour with Chris Turletes and Stan Vanover. Loren Buck explained the wide array of UAA research including the fascinating research about ground squirrels and stickleback fish. LeeAnn Munk told the senator about how undergraduates receive greater opportunities at UAA because of the high level of research and fewer graduate students. Birgit Hagedorn explained the ASET lab. I would have liked to have stayed longer to watch Andy Puckett's show in the Planetarium.

Thank you to all of you.

Did you know:

This year's Honorary Degrees will be awarded to Senator Daniel Inouye, Doctor of Law; Edwin "Ed" Crittenden, Doctor of Humane Letters; Sandy Harper, Doctor of Fine Arts; and John Hoover, Doctor of Fine Arts.

Meritorious Service Awards are going to community leaders Carla Beam, Michael Carey, Mary Epperson and Richard Neubauer on April 30.

Student Success

Two-sport star Ruth Keino was named 2010-11 winner of the Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year at the Athletic Department's annual end-of-year banquet. Ruth was honored for her accomplishments on last year's track & field team plus this year's cross country squad. Commencing this year, UAA's Athlete of the Year is named in honor of William L. (Bill) MacKay -- a longtime supporter, corporate partner and advocate for Seawolf Athletics and the University in general. MacKay is Alaska Airlines Senior Vice President for Alaska.

UAA is the winner of the inaugural University of Alaska Ethics Bowl, hosted by the UAF Socratic Society. The victory at UA's internal competition qualifies a UAA team for participation in the regional Ethics Bowl where, if they're successful, they may be one of the 32 teams selected to compete in the national Ethics Bowl sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

College of Business and Public Policy economics student, Cristina Gaina, is traveling to Kamchatka, Russia, to conduct economics experiments with local villagers as part of the National Science Foundation project that will eventually compare the Russian results to similar experiments conducted in western Alaska.

UAA culinary arts student Melvin Cristobal

Chef Vern Wolfram, Melvin Cristobal and Chef Naomi Everett

Culinary Arts student, Melvin Cristobal is one of seven recipients throughout the United States of the 2011 GRI/Giacomo Bologna Scholarship. GRI (Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani) is a not-for-profit association promoting awareness of Italian cuisine through member restaurants, culinary schools, news media and other avenues to achieve a better understanding of Italian food and wine in North America.

Program Success

UAA Lemonade Day

Lemonade Day map

The College of Business and Public Policy and UA Center for Economic Development, along with community partners, have organized Alaska's first Lemonade Day. Nearly 1,100 youth will be taught to start, own and operate their own business. Please stop by one of lemonade stands marked in red on the map (click for larger image) on May 1 and buy lemonade from these young entrepreneurs.

Electronics recycling at UAA

Electronic recycling event saves more than $10,000. On April 23, Total Reclaim crew and UAA Recycling crew collected 29,114 pounds of electronics, batteries and other materials. That's almost 15 TONS! The cost of the recycling alone would have been $10,190

MAP-Works, Making Achievement Possible, a comprehensive student retention and success program has contributed to persistence gains in the following student pilot cohorts in its first year 2009-10:

  • Alaska Native (+2.0 percent)
  • Undeclared baccalaureate degree-seeking (+2.3 percent)
  • On-campus residential (+6.0 percent)
  • UA Scholars (+1.7 percent)
  • Students enrolled in College Survival Skills (+5.0 percent)
Faculty Success

Dr. Alex Hills

Dr. Alex Hills, talking about the Alex Hills Engineering and Civic Engagement Award at the 2nd Annual Community Engagement Forum celebrating the Center for Community Engagement and Learning's 10th anniversary.

Associate Professor of Social Work Tracey Burke is the winner of the 2011 Selkregg Community Engagement and Service Learning Award. The award will support a research study in partnership with the Food Bank of Alaska to explore the perspectives and experiences of food-insecure families.

Institute of Social and Economic Research's Scott Goldsmith was invited to testify before the U.S. House subcommittee on Energy and Power on April 13, on the subject of "The American Energy Initiative."

Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Raymond Anthony has been awarded a National Science Foundation, Arctic Social Science Division Grant to host a Climate Ethics Works-in-Progress Conference at UAA. The award is for $48,303. The conference dates are Sept. 7-8, 2011.

Joy Chavez Mapaye (Ph.D., 2010) won the national BEA's 2011 Harwood Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, "Viral Viewers: Examining the Role of Parasocial Interaction on Local TV News Web site Visitors' Loyalty and Commitment."

Nalinaksha Bhattacharyya, Harold T. Caven Professor of Business, was awarded the Best in Track Paper Award for Education in Finance at the Academy of Finance Conference in Chicago.

Sudarsan Rangarajan, Associate Professor and Coordinator of French Department of Languages had an article titled "The Poetics of Silence in Maria Chapdelaine" in the international journal Neophilologus.

Research Success

UAA received 29 awards totaling more than $2.9M between March 30 and April 15, 2011. The awards were received in five different areas, including Research (13 awards with a sum total of $607K) and Public Service (10 awards totaling $1.9M). Instruction ($90K), Academic Support ($144K), and Other Sponsored Activity ($245K) rounded out the award categories.

Virginia Fay, Assistant Professor of ISER, and Tobias Schwoerer, Research Associate, received three research awards totaling $153K to continue their work with the Chaninik Wind Group and other entities.

Thomas Ravens, Professor and Chair of Civil Engineering, received research awards totaling $157K from the North Pacific Research Board and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The funding from the North Pacific Research Board will enable a close examination of the shoreline change on Sagavanirktok Delta, which is on the North Slope near Prudhoe Bay.

UAA's Center for Human Development received slightly more than $1.3M from a variety of Public Service awards during the past two weeks.

The State of Alaska's Health and Social Services awarded two public service awards totaling $583K to Richard Kiefer-O'Donnell, Associate Professor and Associate Director of CHD. The funding will be used to build an evidence-based model to address challenging behaviors and provide Positive Behavior Support training to schools and agencies who work closely with youth who experience emotional issues and behavioral health challenges.

Two additional grants were awarded to Karen Ward, Director of CHD. The State of Alaska's Health and Social Services provided $135K to conduct annual outcomes evaluations of families enrolled in the State's early intervention and infant learning programs. An additional $70K was given by the State's Department of Labor and Workforce Development to continue the Alaska First Program, which is a Teacher Industry Externship.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded $144K to Herbert Schroeder, Director of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), for an academic support initiative entitled Extending Success to Graduate School. The initiative will promote graduate education at the master's and Ph.D. levels to Alaska Native students who have formally been admitted into advanced science and engineering degree programs and are enrolled in the ANSEP Graduate Success Program. Successful graduate students will be awarded a minimum of $30K to advance their education. The University of Alaska Foundation provided an additional $235K for ANSEP's Summer Bridge program and general support.


Donors and scholarship recipients were honored at the sixth annual scholarship celebration Friday, April 1 at the Lucy Cuddy Center. This yearly event allows donors to meet with scholarship recipients, share a meal and have their photos taken. The university awarded more than 450 scholarships this year to more than 300 students. UAA has more than 200 privately funded scholarships, with 11 new ones created just this year.

Susan Bramstedt of Alaska Airlines received the inaugural Seawolf Service Award from Dr. Steve Cobb at the 2011 Seawolf Donor Appreciation reception on April 15.

UAA's Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) announces the new George Rogers Emerging Scholars Fund. A founding father and architect of Alaska's economic development, George Rogers was instrumental in the creation of ISER which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Community Campus success

Senator Mark Begich and Gary Turner at KPC

Gary Turner and Sen. Begich at KPC

Senator Mark Begich visited Kenai Peninsula College and addressed about 50 students, faculty and staff in the commons. He was made honorary adjunct and presented with a blue KPC vest that has the KPC logo and "Part-time Faculty" embroidered on it.

Kenai Peninsula College (KPC) is home to the Central Kenai Peninsula Photo Collection which is making available to the general public, educators and researchers images which document the emergence of the communities of Soldotna, Kenai, Nikiski, Sterling, Ninilchik, Kasilof and Clam Gulch, Alaska during the mid to late 20th century.

KPC will soon award a contract to have a book written about KPC's first 50 years. The 50th anniversary is August 2014 and the book will be released at that time.

Kodiak College

Kodiak College Assistant Professor of Business/Accounting Kathrynn Hollis-Buchanan recently taught a community class in Ouzinkie on how to write an effective business plan. With 30+ participants, the community is now able to determine the feasibility of starting a coffee shop or other small business opportunity.

Prince William Sound Community College

PWSCC student Margarita Zembzycka placed 21st in the nation at the USCA National Indoor Collegiate Archery Championships. Margarita shot her personal best in the Tulare, CA West Region last month. From a field of 95 competitors, Margarita's score of 916 earned her the 21st spot in national indoor collegiate women's recurve standing.

Mat-Su College

Matanuska-Susitna College chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society held their first annual banquet featuring Iditarod musher Dee Dee Jonrowe. Ms. Jonrowe provided many interesting stories of her impressive career and spoke to the theme of excellence. The event raised over $3,000.

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


Creative Commons License "April 2011" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.