UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield honored with emeritus designation, retiring after 35 years of service to the University of Alaska

On May 2, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) celebrated the achievements and accomplishments of over 450 graduates in Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan. During the Juneau celebration, the title of Chancellor Emeritus was bestowed upon Dr. Rick Caulfield by UA President Jim Johnsen. This is a prestigious honor which celebrates Chancellor Caulfield’s continuous meritorious service as an educator and as a leader for UAS and the University of Alaska as a whole. Caulfield retires at the end of June, having worked for the University of Alaska for over 35 years. 

Rick Caulfield
Chancellor Rick Caulfield

Chancellor Caulfield’s experience with the University of Alaska began in Fairbanks in 1977 as a research associate with the Cooperative Park Studies Unit and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence as a Resource Specialist II. In those positions he published several reports on Alaska Native subsistence use in the Upper Yukon region of the state. He earned a Master’s degree in Education and a teaching certificate in Secondary Education from UAF in 1983. He served as an Assistant/Associate Professor & Coordinator of UAF’s Rural Development Program, Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham prior to beginning his doctorate program with the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom in 1988. He conducted his doctoral research on aboriginal subsistence whaling in Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland, where he and his family lived in 1989 and 1990.

Upon return to Alaska in 1990, Chancellor Caulfield served as a tenured full professor at UAF and Academic Program Head in the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development. He later took on administrative responsibilities as Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Acting Dean of the College of Rural and Community Development and Dean/Director of UAF’s Community and Technical College (formerly UAF Tanana Valley Campus). In 2010 Caulfield stepped into the role of Provost at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) and was then selected to serve as Chancellor in 2015. His rich experiences have shaped his career and brought grace and energetic advocacy for education to his work at UAS.

Provost Dr. Karen Carey noted, “I came to UAS for the opportunity to work with a proven leader. Working for Rick but always feeling like you are working with him, made all the difference for me. He will be greatly missed by all of us but I know he will continue to advocate for the University of Alaska Southeast.” Dr. Carey was appointed by UA Acting President Michelle Rizk to replace Chancellor Caulfield as Interim Chancellor beginning July 1.

Under Caulfield’s leadership as Chancellor, UAS underwent successful re-accreditation with the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), which resulted in five commendations for its inclusivity, its efforts and commitment to student retention and student success, optimization of distance education, and its success at integrating three campus locations into one regional university with shared vision and values. His involvement of Elders and culture bearers has created an extremely important connection with the Alaska Native community, ensuring that UAS is a place of cultural safety and equity.

“The University of Alaska has been a huge part of my life and that of my family here in Alaska. As a graduate of the university, I know firsthand about the quality of its programs. I’ve seen the importance of the university from many perspectives: as a place of opportunity for academic excellence, research, and workforce development; as a place that transforms the lives of students and contributes to healthy and vibrant communities; and as an institution that shares knowledge about the cultures, languages, and wisdom of Alaska’s indigenous peoples with all Alaskans. My sincere hope is that Alaskans continue to value and invest in their university for the benefit of future generations.”

Chancellor Caulfield and his wife Annie met and were married in Southeast Alaska in 1979. Even though they lived in many other Alaskan communities, they always planned to return to Southeast Alaska. They plan to remain in Juneau after retirement.

Additional Quotes about Chancellor Caulfield

Elise Tomlinson, UAS Egan Library Dean

“Chancellor Caulfield has been a strong supporter of the UAS Egan Library both as UAS Provost and Chancellor. It was his suggestion to start the Friends of Egan Library Network (FOELN), as well as one of our most popular library events, the annual FOELN UAS Authors' Celebration. He supported the creation of the Cyril George Indigenous Knowledge Collection within the library, and continues to support efforts to create an indigenous knowledge center. He regularly attends events in the library, including the Evening at Egan Lecture Series, and student centered events such as our annual Open House. He understands the critical need for tutoring services for students in gateway courses such as Math and Writing, and led the effort to create the regional Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) on the Juneau campus. He has also been an advocate for the adoption of Open Educational Resources at UAS, which lowers the cost of attendance for students. Chancellor Caulfield loves our UAS students, and always keeps their needs at the forefront of his decision making.”

Dr. Steve Atwater, the Executive Dean for the Alaska College of Education

“Although leadership is a complex, deeply studied science, it’s actually quite easy to determine if a leader is successful.  All you have to do is sit in on half a dozen meetings led by the leader and watch the response and energy of the attendees.  If the leader is successful, it will be obvious to the observer: the attendees will share an unspoken confidence that the person at the helm is in charge.  Chancellor Caulfield was this person for UAS.  After watching him in action for the past two years, it is obvious that he had the confidence of the students, staff, faculty, administration and external stakeholders.  He was the right person to lead UAS.  The next right person will eventually emerge.  Until then, UAS will continue in the momentum of Chancellor Caulfield’s wake.”