UAA announces new leadership hires for diversity, academics, research

by Cathy Sandeen, UAA Chancellor  |   

Dear UAA Community,

As you know, there have been a number of recruitments underway for key UAA leadership positions. I am pleased to announce the university’s recent hire of our chief diversity officer, provost and vice provost for research. Some faces are new, while some are familiar to us. I will also share important updates regarding existing personnel.

Chief Diversity Officer
Ms. Jennifer Booz will be UAA’s first chief diversity officer. The chief diversity officer will serve as a principal advisor to the chancellor and cabinet on diversity matters. The position will lead UAA’s efforts to transform programs, services and processes to support a vibrant campus life, a positive and respectful culture, a diverse curriculum and the meaningful inclusion of UAA's diverse population of students, staff and faculty.

Jennifer comes to UAA from the University of Toledo where she served as director in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. She worked closely with administrators, faculty, staff and students to implement UT’s Strategic Diversity Plan. Jennifer has 20 years’ experience as a post-secondary administrator, including as a dean of students. She has facilitated dialogues about diversity and inclusion with local, regional, and national audiences including nonprofits, corporations, and government officials.

After a competitive national search process, Dr. Denise Runge has been selected as UAA’s next provost. She is currently the dean of the UAA Community and Technical College. Under her leadership, the college has sharpened its focus on academic advising and student support resulting in increases in student retention and persistence. Denise previously served as the associate director of academic affairs and associate professor of business and public administration at Prince William Sound College. Her background includes academic leadership experience as associate dean of academics at Helena College, vice president of academic affairs at Oglethorpe University and dean of the College of Arts & Letters at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Vice Provost for Research
Dr. Aaron Dotson will permanently assume the role of vice provost for research. During the 2019-20 academic year, he served in an interim capacity, overseeing all research operations, representing UAA on the Statewide Research Council and building sponsored programs. Aaron also serves as director of the Applied Environmental Research Center and was previously the associate dean for research in the the UAA College of Engineering. A civil engineering professor, his work has been instrumental in developing the next generation of household technologies for rural Alaskan villages inclusive of water reuse.

Existing Personnel Updates
Dr. John Petraitis will continue as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for the ’20-’21 academic year, and Dr. John Stalvey, interim provost, will serve as a special assistant to the chancellor once Denise begins as provost. Thank you to John Petraitis and John Stalvey for their continued leadership and service.

I want to express my gratitude to search committee chairs and members who participated in these recruitments as well as members of our campus communities who interacted with finalists and provided feedback. On a similar note, you can expect to see an announcement about the new Kodiak College director in the next week. Thank you to those of you who participated in that effort.

Please join me in warmly congratulating Jennifer, Denise and Aaron and welcoming them into these roles. In spite of the challenges UAA faces, I continue to be hopeful and optimistic for the future. I look forward to the contributions these leaders will make.

Cathy Sandeen
UAA Chancellor

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