System News

After months of planning UA Risk Services, UAF police and fire, Alaska Department of Homeland Security and multiple other agencies participated in an exercise testing their ability to respond to a terrorist attack on the UAF campus. Photo by Monique Musick

New University Relations Vice President

Message from President Gamble

Dear University of Alaska Employees:

I’d like to share some important personnel changes with you.

Wendy Redman, Vice President for University Relations, is retiring Aug. 1 from the university she has served so well and faithfully for four decades.  Many Alaskans all across our state owe her an enormous debt of gratitude for her many years of devoted service to this institution and its students.  Much of where the university is at today is due to Wendy’s steadfast efforts to improve higher education, programming and university facilities across the state. Ten university presidents, including me, were fortunate enough to have Wendy’s unflagging support and her insight working for them.

Associate Vice President for Development and President of the UA Foundation Mary Rutherford also has announced her plans to leave Alaska for new opportunities at Boise State University.  Mary’s done so much to move our growing philanthropy efforts at UA to new levels, and as a result, the Foundation and internal support structure for that work has never been stronger. I’d like to thank Mary for her leadership and wish her the best of luck at BSU.

Despite the departure of these two fine individuals, there appears now an opportunity for some restructuring. I’ve recently met with the Board of Trustees for the UA Foundation to discuss it. We have agreed that a new, combined position—an executive who will direct University Relations on the “university side” and concurrently serve as foundation president on the “foundation side”—can elevate the role philanthropy plays at our institution and will serve to forge stronger ties between the foundation and university.

We’ve also agreed on the right person to move into this new position. Carla Beam, who has served on the foundation Board of Trustees for the last seven years, has accepted this joint appointment.

Carla has a long history of public relations and philanthropy in Alaska.  She worked in public relations for Wien Air Alaska from 1980-1985 and in community and external affairs for BP (Exploration) Alaska Inc. from 1997-2009. She also ran her own public relations firm in Alaska from 1985-1997, representing business, government and nonprofit sectors.

Carla has a great sense of civic and community service, serving on numerous boards and committees, including the United Way and Alaska Community Foundation. She was the 2011 recipient of the University of Alaska Anchorage Meritorious Service Award, and has received numerous YMCA and YWCA awards over the years, including the YWCA’s Outstanding Woman in Philanthropy Award in 2005. In 2009, she received the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pan Award for Community Service.

Carla will have offices in Fairbanks and Anchorage. On the university side, Public Affairs, Government Relations and System Governance will continue to report to Carla as Vice President for University
Relations. On the foundation side, all foundation staff will report to her as well. I believe, as do the boards of regents and trustees, that this new structure will help the university become more effective in overall university advancement. I’m pleased to welcome Carla, who will begin her duties Aug. 1.

Be sure to wish the best of luck to both Wendy and Mary when you see them.

Pat Gamble

UA General Counsel Roger Brunner announces retirement

Memo to statewide staff July 28

Dear UA Colleagues and Friends—

 I wanted to let you know that I have decided to retire as UA General Counsel this October. I am going to move on to pursue a long list of non-legal personal goals and to spend more time with my family.

This job has been terrific. Attorneys Mike Hostina, Ardith Lynch, Mike O’Brien and Larry Zervos are a top-notch legal team, and it has definitely been a highlight of my career to work with all of them. I am extremely proud of their legal talent. Each one of them is well-respected among lawyers in Alaska. I encourage you to continue to rely on them for quality legal advice.

The wide-ranging issues I have seen during my time here, such as ice-breaker ship contracts, complex employment law issues, musk ox and moose cases, and even a lawsuit over a failing grade, have all brought fascinating intellectual challenges and opportunities to help the university achieve its goals. I believe we have made good progress toward my objective of reducing litigation volume, costs and damage payments by using both preventative education and dispute management.

The University of Alaska has been a great place to work in public service. The General Counsel office has given me a chance to work with outstanding lawyers and staff, and other university personnel whom I now count as good friends. I am grateful for the chance to help the university in its mission of building minds for the future.

Best wishes,

Roger Brunner
General Counsel
University of Alaska

Editor's note: An interim general counsel will be named in the coming months.

New Executive Director of Labor & Employee Relations

Statewide Employees:
I am happy to announce the hire of a new Executive Director of Labor and Employee Relations, Don Smith.  Don has excellent labor relations credentials, with many years of experience in this field.  Many of you may not realize that this position has been left vacant for two years due to budget restrictions, with Chief Human Resources Officer Beth Behner assuming LER duties during this time. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Beth for overseeing this important function.
Because of the critical nature of Labor and Employee Relations, which includes not only union contract negotiations but also resolving employee grievances and disputes, Don will report directly to me.  The four people in that unit, including three Labor and Employee Relations coordinators and one legal assistant, will now report to Don, who begins work next Monday, Aug. 1, in the Bragaw Building in Anchorage.
In addition to Labor Relations, Don's responsibilities for UA will include all employee relations except for employment matters involving executive officers, which will remain under the purview of the CHRO. All other System HR functions, including payroll, benefits, classification and compensation, training and development, HR systems and hiring, also will continue to report through CHRO Behner. I’m confident this new structure will prove beneficial to all involved.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Pat Gamble

Christensen joins UA System

Chris Christensen, a longtime employee with the Alaska Court System, will join the UA System Aug. 1 as associate vice president for state relations.

Christensen served as deputy administrative director of the court system since 2000 and as the court’s general counsel since 1990. In these positions he’s served as the court system’s liaison to the Alaska State Legislature. Prior to his time with the court system, he worked in a variety of positions with the legislature, including serving as committee counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and staff counsel to various leadership positions, including Senate President and Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair and House Majority Leader.

As associate vice president for state relations, Christensen will report to Vice President for University Relations Carla Beam, who also begins work at UA Aug. 1. Beam succeeds Wendy Redman, who is retiring after four decades of service to the university.

The state relations position at UA has been vacant since August 2009, with Redman filling in during the 2010 and 2011 sessions. Former state lawmaker Pete Kelly held the post from 2003 to 2009. Prior to 2003, Redman performed those duties for many years.

Christensen will work seasonally and be based primarily in Juneau and Anchorage.

The state relations director plays an important liaison role for the university, regularly communicating information about key pieces of legislation and the capital and operating budget process with a wide variety of university stakeholders.

Christensen moved to Alaska when he was 15 in 1971, after spending most of his childhood in Hawaii. He lived in Fairbanks from 1985 to 1987, while working for the late Don Bennett, who was Senate President at the time.

Christensen received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Cornell University in 1978 and his Juris Doctor in 1981 from the University of Texas School of Law. He’s been a member of the Alaska Bar Association since 1982.

Christensen and his wife Blair have been married for eight years. His hobbies include sea kayaking, most often in Prince William Sound.

2011 Full-Scale Terrorist Response Drill

After nearly a year of planning, UA Risk Services, UAF police and fire, the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and multiple other agencies, including Army and Airforce, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, local-area fire departments and volunteer departments, Alaska State Troopers and others, participated in an exercise testing their ability to respond to a terrorist attack on the UAF campus.

On the same day statewide staff at the Butrovich participated in a bomb threat evacuation drill. Bomb detection dogs and an Army explosions unit located and disarmed the device respectively.

The mock bomb scenario received local media coverage including this STORY in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. As well as channel 11 and 13 news.

For a brief description of events and photos of the drill by statewide photographer Monique Musick click here for BUTROVICH and here for the main EXERCISE.

SAA Highlights

The Statewide Administration Assembly met on July 14 in the Sherman Carter conference room. The next SAA meeting will be Wednesday, August 10, at 10 a.m. All meetings are open to the public, and statewide workers are encouraged to contact their governance group to address workplace concerns, policies, and other matters affecting statewide staff.

July 14 meeting overview:

  • President Gamble on strategic plan, budget and 360 executive reviews
  • Tuition waivers
  • Performance Evaluations
  • Voice over IP Project
  • Emergency Management

For information please read the overview HERE.


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