Dr. Aparna Palmer begins tenure as UAS Chancellor

July 7, 2023

Dr. Aparna Palmer is beginning her new tenure as the new UAS Chancellor. UA President Pat Pitney, who appointed Chancellor Palmer in March, had this to say:

“Aparna brings a passion for UAS’ mission, and a breadth of experience which make her an excellent fit for this role,” President Pitney said. “My decision was based on those qualities, and the feedback I received from the search committee and the broader UAS community. Her time teaching in the classroom, participating in shared governance, and leading higher education administration will be invaluable as she leads UAS in providing the programs that support Southeast Alaska, and our state’s broader workforce needs.” 

Dr. Palmer’s selection comes after a rigorous recruitment process led by a search committee consisting of UAS faculty, staff, and Southeast Alaska community leaders. Five finalists engaged with staff, students, faculty, and community members in a number of forums and visited all three UAS campuses. Among the criteria for selecting the next chancellor was a demonstrated deep commitment to Alaska and the stability and success of the university. Dr. Palmer was the unanimous first choice of the search committee.

“During her candidate forums, Aparna’s identification with UAS’ values, commitment to collaboration, and student-centered approach to all aspects of education demonstrated her connection with our Southeast communities,” President Pitney said. “My choice reflects the person who best embodies those qualities, and whose approach will help UAS continue empowering Alaska. Together, with the Board of Regents, we welcome Chancellor Aparna Palmer to the university system.”

“I am honored to be appointed as chancellor of such an amazing and distinctive university and I am committed to UAS, the UA System, and to Alaskans,” Dr. Palmer said. “I look forward to working with the incredible faculty and staff to support their work and educational mission, and creating more opportunities for students to access higher education. Having lived in, taught about, and done research on Pacific Northwest coastal organisms and ecosystems, I’m excited to make Southeast my home. Along with the great alumni, and with the support of the Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka communities, we will continue leveraging UAS’ strengths and opportunities to further empower Alaska.”

Dr. Palmer previously served as a Vice President at Front Range Community College (FRCC), which is part of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). She is the chief executive of the Boulder County Campus and interim chief executive of the Larimer County Campus of FRCC, and brings 25 years of experience in higher education. CCCS is Colorado’s largest higher education system, and FRCC is the largest college in the system, offering technical certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees.

Before joining FRCC, Dr. Palmer was the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Colorado Mesa University (CMU), an institution with a dual role and mission to serve as a regional university with bachelor’s and graduate degrees, and as a community college (Western Colorado Community College, WCCC) with technical certificates and associate's degrees. During her 22 years at CMU as a Professor of Biology, she served as the Director of the Academic Honors Program, Faculty Senate President, and Faculty Trustee on the CMU/WCCC Board. Dr. Palmer holds a Ph.D. in Zoology from Washington State University as well as a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a B.A. in English from Colorado State University. As a scientist, she studies the natural histories and molecular genetics of tardigrades (water bears) and polychaetes (seaworms).