2020 Archive

Dr. Tod BurnettUA Foundation Names Dr. Tod A. Burnett as President

The University of Alaska Foundation Board of Directors has named Dr. Tod A. Burnett as president of the University of Alaska Foundation and chief development officer of the University of Alaska. Dr. Burnett, was previously the executive vice chancellor for advancement at Brandman University, Irvine, CA, has extensive experience in higher education philanthropy and non-profit leadership. Dr. Burnett succeeds Susan Foley who retired in August and will begin his presidency on November 8, 2020.

“Tod’s substantial higher education experience will be critical for the Foundation's success as we navigate our way through these fiscal times,” said Cynthia Cartledge, chair of the UA Foundation board. “We look forward to Tod’s leadership of our foundation and to the many philanthropic successes he will achieve in Alaska.”

In addition to his advancement position at Brandman, Dr. Burnett served as the university’s interim dean for the School of Education and as adjunct faculty.

Prior to his time at Brandman, Dr. Burnett served for nearly 10 years as president of Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA where he led the community college’s efforts in building a highly successful foundation and enhancing workforce development and student success. Dr. Burnett also was previously vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges, and served in the Office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the director of state and local government relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. and as a commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works.

Dr. Burnett has extensive private business experience, has served on a number of public and private boards and commissions and has been recognized by more than 75 public officials and organizations for his contributions to community and social causes.

Dr. Burnett earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from University of California, Riverside, a master’s degree in management/finance from University of Southern California and a doctorate in education and psychology from Pepperdine University.

“I have dedicated my life to higher education and serving the public, and I am thrilled to join the UA Foundation team in supporting the philanthropic efforts of Alaska’s three prestigious universities,” said Dr. Burnett. “Alaska is one of our nation’s gems, and I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community throughout the state in furthering UA’s vital mission.”      

UA Interim President Pat Pitney said, “I look forward to working with Tod to showcase the high quality university programs throughout the UA system including how those programs change lives, support businesses, and how they are fundamental to the economy and to Alaska's future.” 

Since Foley’s retirement in August 2020, the Foundation has been led by Acting President Megan Riebe. “We sincerely appreciate Megan's leadership over the last several months as acting president,” Cartledge said, “and are grateful for the excellent staff and leadership we have at the Foundation.”

Established in 1974, the University of Alaska Foundation is a private nonprofit corporation and operates as a public Foundation to solicit, manage and invest donations for the exclusive benefit of the University of Alaska. The university’s Board of Regents recognized the University of Alaska Foundation as the entity to manage gifts made to support all campuses of the University of Alaska system. The Foundation is separate and distinct from the University of Alaska and is governed by a 22-member Board of Directors.


Barnes Receives University of Alaska Foundation Bullock Prize

The University of Alaska (UA) Foundation selected University of Alaska Fairbanks’s Brian Barnes as recipient of the 2020 Edith R. Bullock Prize. Barnes is Director of UAF’s Institute of Arctic Biology and has been a faculty member for over three decades. The recognition includes a $15,000 cash prize, which can be used as the recipient wishes. It is the single largest award presented by the UA Foundation’s Board of Directors each year.

“Edith Bullock made a generous contribution to the University that enabled establishment of this award to showcase extraordinary achievements of individuals on behalf of the UA system,” said Foundation Chair Cynthia Cartledge. “Dr. Barnes’ hibernation and arctic research, along with his management of the Toolik Field Station, actively contribute to the advancement of arctic research and education throughout the UA system and internationally.”

Barnes earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Riverside and a Doctorate in Zoology from the University of Washington. Since 1986, Barnes has been a faculty member with the Department of Biology and Wildlife and researcher with the Institute of Arctic Biology. He became the director of the Institute of Arctic Biology in 2002. Since he joined the UAF faculty, his research interests have focused on the physiological ecology and endocrinology of hibernating mammals and overwintering biology of animals including arctic ground squirrels, black bears, and insects.

In 2014, he became the principal investigator and director for the Alaska IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). INBRE is Alaska’s biomedical research program at UA and is funded by the National Institutes of General Sciences. Alaska INBRE strives to enhance biomedical research, training, and education.

“Brian has done a masterful job of utilizing the intrinsic appeal of his science (those squirrels really are cute, aren’t they?) and his down-to-earth persona to present understandable science to the public,” notes UAF Provost Emeritus Paul Reichardt in his nomination. “In fact, one could argue that in the long run the impact of his public media publications and appearances may rival or even exceed the impact of his scientific publications.”

The Bullock award was established with a generous gift from the late Edith R. Bullock, whose 30 years of service to the University included service on the UA Board of Regents and the UA Foundation Board of Directors. The UA Foundation, a non-profit 501(c) (3), seeks, secures and stewards philanthropic support to build excellence at the University of Alaska.


University of Alaska Foundation awards migratory bird research grant

The University of Alaska Foundation announces the winning proposal for the 2020 Angus Gavin Memorial Migratory Bird Research Grant.

Rachel Gingras, a post-graduate student in biological sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage, received $15,000 to support her proposal entitled “Assessing Breeding Origin and Migratory Pathways in a Declining Aerial Insectivore.” The project concentrates on the study of the breeding site variability and migration patterns in tree swallows, which are a declining songbird species.

Gingras’ research will look at isotopes within feathers to study the places that the birds have been which will fill gaps in migratory connectivity knowledge of Alaskan birds for the Migratory Connectivity Project. The goal of the Migratory Connectivity Project is to advance the conservation and understanding of animals throughout their full life cycle.

The Gavin Grant is awarded annually to support research on bird species found either permanently or seasonally in Alaska or its coastal waters, including their biology, general ecology and habitat relationships. This specific project will assist in understanding how climate change may affect Alaska’s avian population over time.

The Gavin Grant, part of the UA Foundation’s consolidated endowment fund, was established in 1981 with a gift from the Atlantic Richfield Co. to honor the memory of Angus Gavin, an environmental scientist and advisor to ARCO.  Gavin was hand-picked by ARCO Chairman Robert O. Anderson to observe, categorize and quantify the little-known flora and fauna of Prudhoe Bay in 1969. Gavin’s work was instrumental in helping ARCO and the scientific community draw conclusions, pro or con, about the impact of oil field development on the ecology of the North Slope and to recommend operational changes that would minimize or negate any adverse effects on the environment.

For more information, please contact Dory Straight at the UA Foundation, 907-450-8030

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