Teri Cothren appointed associate vice president of workforce development

In May, Teri Cothren was promoted to associate vice president of workforce development at the University of Alaska. She replaced Fred Villa, who retired earlier this year.

“I feel privileged to work with university colleagues and partners around the state to help increase access to education for Alaskans,” Cothren said. “It is inspiring to work with people who choose to dedicate their career to education and making Alaska a better place.”

In this capacity, she serves as an associate member of the National Association of State Directors of Advance Career and Technical Education, President Elect of the Alaska Association of Career and Technical Education, on the Board of Directors for the Alaska Safety Alliance, and Co-chair of the Alaska Maritime Education Consortium. She is also a core member in the implementation of the Alaska Career and Technical Education Plan and workforce development plans for Alaska industries in health, maritime, mining and oil & gas. 

Cothren’s UA career path began when her dad, a UAA professor at the time, encouraged her to apply for the University of Alaska Anchorage’s temporary labor pool following graduating with her bachelor’s degree. Her first job was with the UAA Community and Technical College. That job led to positions with UA’s corporate programs and workforce programs. 

“Education is one of my core values,” said Cothren. “It’s something instilled in me through several generations in my family. It’s also why I am passionate about my work with the University of Alaska’s workforce development programs. It is rewarding being a part of connecting students to education and training, no matter the level of degree program, that can lead to jobs in Alaska with livable wages.”

In 2016, Cothren’s commitment to breaking barriers to workforce development and career and technical education was recognized with the UA Statewide President's Spotlight Award. The award recognizes UA System employees and teams who perform above and beyond the norm. 

“Teri has demonstrated an innate ability to bring people together and work collaborative with faculty, administrators and employers to develop communication tools and processes that assist students develop and attain their career goals,” said Villa, who nominated Cothren for the award. 

When Cothren was 6-years-old, her family drove up the Alcan so her Dad could begin his teaching career at the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Engineering. She grew up spending time on the campus and has fond memories accompanying her dad on weekends while he graded papers or prepared for classes.

When it was time for college, Cothren chose UAA. In her sophomore year, she walked onto the UAA Women’s Basketball team as a shooting and point guard. By her junior year, she obtained a scholarship and then was voted team captain her senior year. She juggled a rigorous academic course load with the Seawolves’ hectic travel and practice schedule. 

Following her first year of clinicals in nursing school, she realized that she didn’t enjoy giving patients shots or performing other procedures.“I love caring for people,” said Cothren. “But I wanted to help people in ways that I didn’t have to hurt them to do it.”  Instead of continuing in nursing, she changed her minor in psychology into a major. 

Cothren’s passion for helping people and basketball culminated into building the Seawolf Athlete Alumni Chapter in 2012. The chapter connects alumni student athletes to UAA Athletics and encourages them to give back in support of current student-athletes and degree programs. The Seawolf Athlete Alumni Chapter has grown to nearly 300 members. 

“Most of my teammates are still in touch,” Cothren said. “Once you have that connection, you have it for the rest of your life. “The University of Alaska has been a touchstone throughout my life,” she continues. “That’s why being here is so rewarding.”