Matt Calhoun named new executive director for Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program

by Green & Gold News  |   

Matt Calhoun
(Photo courtesy Matt Calhoun)

Matt Calhoun, Ph.D. (Athabaskan) has been selected as the new full-time executive director of the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP). A graduate of ANSEP, former program assistant director, and associate professor of civil engineering at UAA, Calhoun has led ANSEP as interim executive director since spring 2023.

“ANSEP plays a critical role in UAA’s strategic goals of putting students first, embracing our diversity and operating as a trusted and respected community partner” said UAA Provost Denise Runge. “Matt’s strong dedication to ensuring all Alaska Native and rural Alaska students can succeed, along with his collaborative and creative approach to programming, made him the perfect choice to lead ANSEP into its next chapter. We are thrilled he has agreed to join our executive leadership team.”

Calhoun will be the first to tell you ANSEP was essential to his academic and professional success. In 2002, he became one of the first students to graduate with ANSEP after earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from UAA. After working as a project/field engineer across Alaska, he returned to ANSEP as a director to inspire more Alaska Native students to pursue an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"Stepping into this role at ANSEP is a tremendous honor for me. I know first hand just how pivotal this program can be, so I feel a great sense of pride and responsibility as I continue the legacy of ANSEP, guiding and inspiring the next generation of students,” said Calhoun.

Fully committed to his passion for education and educational equity, Calhoun decided to obtain a master’s degree in civil engineering, which he earned from the University of Colorado at Boulder, then followed by a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Notably, Calhoun was one of the first students to earn a doctorate through ANSEP and the first Alaska Native in the world to earn a Ph.D. in civil engineering. In 2015, Calhoun was appointed as assistant director of ANSEP and assistant professor of civil engineering at UAA, making him one of the university’s first Alaska Native tenure-track engineering faculty members.

“I want to encourage students like me, and all students in Alaska, to earn their degrees and become leaders in their fields and in our state,” said Calhoun. “As executive director I will remain committed to continuing ANSEP’s mission of making quality, affordable education available for all Alaskans. Together with the support of our strategic partners, who make it possible for us to provide all of these incredible opportunities, we’ll create even more pathways to success, ensuring that every student has the support and resources they need to thrive in their academic and professional careers.”

ANSEP has experienced near-continuous growth since its founding nearly 30 years ago. This month, ANSEP celebrates its largest-ever graduating class of full-time Acceleration Academy students, and will welcome its largest group of Summer Bridge students. Dedicated to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment within ANSEP, where students feel empowered to pursue and achieve their goals, Calhoun and the ANSEP team will continue to make a lasting difference in the lives of Alaska’s students.

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