Public Affairs

July 10, 1973

New UA president Dr. Robert W. Hiatt goes to Washington, D.C.


Release date: 7/10/73

FAIRBANKS--Dr. Robert W. Hiatt, the new president of the University of Alaska, leaves Anchorage for Washington, D. C., on Wednesday, July 11 after spending a week and a half in Alaska.

During his stay, Hiatt conferred with university officials on several campuses of the statewide university. He was briefed by the university's vice presidents, by provosts in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau, and by other administrative personnel, as well as by deans, research directors and representatives of the faculty and student body.

He held press conferences in Anchorage and Fairbanks and told news media representatives he feels one of the major obligations of the university president is to communicate with Alaskan communities and that in the future he hopes to meet regularly with newsmen.

Hiatt goes to Washington for a debriefing session at the U.S. Department of State regarding his previous duties as consular officer and counselor for scientific af-fairs in Tokyo. He will return to Alaska in mid-August via his former home in Hawaii.

He was acting president of the University of Hawaii from 1968 to 1969 and vice president
for academic affairs from 1963 to 1968. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1943.

During his meetings with the Alaska press, Hiatt stated that the University of Alaska had a very good scholastic reputation. He said that while no university can accomplish everything, each institution has certain unique capabilities. The University of Alaska, he said, has done well in developing its potential in such areas as geophysics and biology, but it also has great potential in the ocean sciences and an enormous political advantage in its geographical location.

He said Alaska is centrally located in the northern hemisphere as well as in the Pacific Rim area and could become "a political meeting-place and transportation hub for the northern area of the globe."

"If we think Anchorage is busy today with 65 Japan Air Lines flights daily," he said, "imagine what will happen when China and Russia get into the act."

He forecast that in a few years there will be several airports busier than the present Anchorage facility.

President Hiatt said the university's Anchorage campus must be developed to the fullest extent necessary to meet the rapidly growing needs of the community, and that it would seem logical to locate business and education programs in Anchorage, near the population center of the state. He stressed, however, that the main emphasis would be on development of a high quality, statewide system of higher education with mutually supporting units.

"Our special need over the next few years is to integrate this system into the most effective working system possible so we can deliver the proper education at the proper place at the proper price," he said. "I think we can do it if we plan effectively for it."

The university's most pressing need is development of a plan to integrate the statewide system, Hiatt said. He also stressed the need for a liberal education for every graduate regardless of his field of study.

"All areas of study are necessary," he said, "but we can't afford to have everything on each campus."

Questioned about the possibility of moving the university administration from Fairbanks
to Anchorage, he said, "I don't think it's going to happen in the six years I may be here." President Hiatt stressed that planning and development of the university system will involve local experts rather than outside consulting firms.

"Outside experts are only ordinary people away from home," he said. "On any campus can find stacks of reports ten feet high, left by consulting firms, that are largely ignored because they are not developed locally. We need to use our own people to do the job.

During a question period, Hiatt added that representatives of each group in the university
system would be needed to aid in planning, including the students, and that development of the state's isolated communities could be given considerable help from the University.

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