I AM UAA: Lawrence "Dean" Marshall

by Ted Kincaid  |   

I AM UAA: Dean MarshallB.B.A. Finance '09, M.P.A. '11
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Fun Fact: Worked with TEDx Anchorage for his Leadership Anchorage project

If asked to picture the images of a superintendent at a correctional facility and a ballroom dancer, you probably wouldn't immediately conjure up the same person in your mind's eye. Breaking through stereotypes, though, is what Dean Marshall has done for over 12 years as a superintendent for Alaska's Department of Corrections (DOC). (And he's been known to be out on the dance floor more than a few times. Ballroom dancing was one of his favorite pastimes, until he returned to school while working full-time.)

Dean was a transplant to Alaska at age 14 in 1970 when his father was stationed here with the U.S. Army. A graduate of West Anchorage High School, he considered following in his dad's military footsteps and attended West Point Military Academy for one year before deciding to move back to Anchorage. Back home, he began his career with DOC as a correctional officer at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center (HMCC) in Eagle River.

Already well into his position as superintendent of HMCC eight years later, Dean decided to go back to school for back-to-back degrees. First a bachelor's in business administration, with an emphasis in finance, followed by a master's in public administration.

"I believe that continuing education is beneficial to improving the overall quality of life for every student," Dean says. "The personal and professional relationships that I developed at UAA have provided me with networking opportunities that have enriched every area of my life."

Other poignant memories for him were the struggles and collaboration on group projects as well as the immense effort of completing his master's degree in two years while working full-time.

"I will never forget the excitement and sense of achievement I had going through the Hooding Ceremony and the awarding of my master's degree," he beams.

On the tail end of his master's program he also participated in Leadership Anchorage, through Alaska Humanities Forum, soaking up even more networking opportunities and the chance to learn from a variety of different leaders in the Alaska community.

Anchorage Leadership"The combination of the M.P.A. program and Leadership Anchorage reinforced how big the world is," he says, "exposing really great opportunities for personal growth and community involvement that I would not have been exposed to within the narrow focus of DOC alone."

But let's not let Dean sell himself short. He brought a lot to the table. Well-established as the superintendent of HMCC at the time, he had long been an advocate for strong community connections and a focus on reformative programs.

"Some of the things I am really proud of include the fantastic staff and volunteers that have always been attracted to the treatment milieu at Hiland Mountain," he says modestly. "With their assistance and dedication, we developed a number of innovative programs that were unique in Alaska at their inception."

During his time at Hiland, Dean was privileged to see a major growth in faith-based programs. In particular, the implementation of a Transformational Living Unit (therapeutic community) and a Faith Unit has provided many reformative opportunities for offenders. He credits the counselors, chaplains and religious volunteers with providing one of the most important investments in the lives of offenders.

Other programs he oversaw during his HMCC tenure included the nationally recognized Inmate String Orchestra (that won a Bright Ideas Award from Harvard in 2010 and was featured on APRN's Hometown Alaska recently), the center's small commercial greenhouse where inmates learn about horticulture and conduct an annual plant sale-and dogs, lots of healthy connections with dogs. Again collaborating with different community affinity groups, Dean has provided opportunities for the HMCC inmates to train service dogs for wounded soldiers, train shelter dogs for adoption, and support dogs that have scratched before the halfway point during the Iditarod.

Highland orchistra

Given his accomplishments, it means a lot when he says, "the opportunity to participate in the 15th cohort of Leadership Anchorage, after completing the M.P.A. program, was one of the most transformative education experiences I could have hoped for."

About UAA he says, "Anchorage is basically a big small town. UAA provides a sense of connection that permeates the community. The athletic teams receive great community support, and the lecture series, musical performances and platform for community activism are a core component of advancing the quality of life in Alaska's major cities."

Bethel can be counted as one of those cities and that is where Dean is now the superintendent at the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center (YKCC). Assigned to oversee the completion of a construction project and to evaluate the overall operation of the facility in the wake of a recently retired predecessor, Dean has taken his combined experiences and passion for community to YKCC.

Among his goals: "to promote faith-based programs and to expand educational, vocational and therapeutic programs for the short-term pretrial population. I will also strongly support and seek opportunities for DOC to be a good neighbor and to partner with the local community by providing opportunities for offenders to give back to the community and successfully reenter society."

As the saying goes: It takes two to tango. UAA is proud to have been part of Dean's dance.

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