Public Affairs

April 18, 2008

UA's Hamilton names Ulmer to permanent post

For Immediate Release
Friday, April 18, 2008

University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton has named Fran Ulmer permanent chancellor for the system's largest hub, the University of Alaska Anchorage.

"Fran has shown exceptional and strong leadership for UAA," Hamilton said.
"She's a skilled manager, thoughtful, thorough and a tireless advocate. I can't think of a better person to have at the helm of UAA."

Hamilton made the announcement during a meeting of the university's Board of Regents in Ketchikan. Board members responded with enthusiastic applause.

Hamilton appointed Ulmer interim chancellor for UAA a year ago following the departure of Elaine Maimon. UAA is the system's health-care center and features degrees in business and public policy, aviation, engineering and numerous other fields of study. The main campus is in Anchorage, with more than 15,000 full- and part-time students enrolled. Community campuses under the UAA umbrella include Mat-Su Community College in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Eagle River Campus in Eagle River, Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, Kenai Peninsula College in Soldotna, Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer (part of KPC) and Kodiak College on Kodiak Island. Those community campuses enroll an additional 4,000 full- and part-time students, for a total enrollment of over 19,600 students.

Ulmer said she's excited to take the job on a permanent basis. "UAA is a vibrant institution. Our faculty is top notch, our students are eager and our staff is committed. I'm honored to serve as permanent chancellor," she said.

Ulmer has a long history of public service in the state. Prior to taking on the interim chancellor role, she served two years as the head of UAA's Institute of Social and Economic Research. Ulmer was a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and served as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She serves on numerous boards and committees, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Alaska Nature Conservancy Board, The CIRI Foundation and the Union of Concerned Scientists Advisory Board. She also serves as co-chair of the National Research Council's Committee on State Voter Registration Databases.

Ulmer's career in public service began more than 30 years ago. She was legislative assistant and later policy development director for the late former Gov. Jay Hammond from 1975 to 1981. Ulmer served as mayor of the City and Borough of Juneau from 1983 to 1985, served in the state House of Representatives from 1986 to 1994 and was lieutenant governor from 1994 to 2002.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Ulmer is married to attorney Bill Council and has two adult children.

Hamilton originally announced that Ulmer's interim appointment would last two years. After just one year in the job, however, she's received overwhelming support from UAA Faculty Senate, numerous staff governance groups and the Union of Students. She's also proven extremely capable on the job, Hamilton said. The permanent chancellor position pays an annual salary of $248,000.

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For more information, call Kate Ripley, UA public affairs director at 907/388-3506, or Megan Olson, vice chancellor for advancement at UAA at 907/786-1764 or 907/350-7453.

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UA Regents expand program options for students

For Immediate Release
Friday, April 18, 2008

University of Alaska students have seven new programs to choose from, following a meeting of the Board of Regents Thursday and today in Ketchikan.

The board approved a new associate degree in playwriting at Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, a doctorate degree in natural resources and sustainability at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and several new programs at the University of Alaska Southeast, including a pre-engineering certificate, associate degree in business, and master's of education degrees in educational leadership and mathematics. Most of the programs will be available starting in fall 2008.

Several of the programs provide collaborative opportunities between the campuses. For instance, the pre-engineering certificate at UAS will provide the foundational courses for students moving toward a Bachelor of Science degree at the larger campuses in Anchorage or Fairbanks. The master's degree in educational leadership will allow students to attend two intensive, six-week courses at UAS in Juneau, but also do coursework throughout the year in the students' home communities. Meanwhile, the doctorate degree in Fairbanks also provides collaborative opportunities with the University of Alaska Anchorage.

In addition to the packed academic agenda, regents toured the UAS Ketchikan facilities, including a technology center that features a simulated training program for mariners seeking U.S. Coast Guard certification. Dale Miller, an assistant professor of marine operations, provided regents the opportunity for a hands-on trial in front of a large, flat-screen simulator. As instructor, Miller can control the weather, traffic and other aspects of the simulator to put students through rigorous exercises.   

Regents expressed concern about one outcome of the recent legislative session in Juneau. While grateful for nearly $8 million in increased funding for priority academic programs--only the fourth time in 20 years the legislature has provided specific money for programs---regents are troubled by seven separate appropriations by campus. For the last 15 years, UA has operated under a single appropriation from the state, allowing the system to jump-start high-demand programs and shift resources to where needs are greatest.

"As a body, we need to encourage the legislature to return to a single appropriation, which is in the best interest of our campuses, especially the rural campuses. The governor understands this," noted Board Chair Mary K. Hughes. "Regents serve for eight years as the trustees of public higher education in Alaska. We spend hours pouring over these budgets with our president and chancellors. The single appropriation has allowed the university to maintain programs and campuses that otherwise would have faced significant challenges."

The board also unanimously approved a resolution of appreciation for UAS Provost Robbie Stell, who has served 43 years in secondary and post-secondary education. Stell has worked at the university since 1969, when the UAS campus was known as the Juneau-Douglas Community College. She was associate professor of office administration and head of the business department and later served as director of business programs. Other positions in which she has served include the dean of the School of Business and Public Administration (now known as the School of Management), dean of vocational education and chancellor's assistant for academic affairs. She's been provost, the chief academic officer for UAS, since 1999.

A similar resolution of appreciation was unanimously approved for UAF Chancellor Steve Jones, who recently announced he is leaving his position after four years to pursue other opportunities closer to Lower 48 family members. Under Jones, UAF witnessed growth in research grants and contracts, private donations to the university and the number of degrees and certificates awarded. He also led the UAF Vision 2017 Task Force, a body of 55 opinion leaders who provided input to shape UAF's future.

The next meeting of the board will be June 18-19 in Anchorage.

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For more information, call Kate Ripley at 907/388-3506.

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