Mark Hamilton Announces Retirement Plans

University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton announced June 5 that he'll retire from his position leading the 16-campus system.

A specific departure date isn't set yet, but Hamilton made his intentions known so the Board of Regents, the system's governing body, can begin the selection process for a new president.

"Quite simply, I want to spend more time with my family, my lovely wife Patty, who has had to share me with either the U.S. Army or the university system for over 40 years. I want to have time to enjoy our four children and their families, including my ninth grandchild due this fall," said Hamilton. "And I want to spend more time in this Alaska that I love so much. Maybe I'll get in some extra fishing time or an extended moose hunt."

Hamilton made the announcement at the close of a two-day board meeting in Fairbanks. Board chair Cynthia Henry said finding a replacement for the articulate and outspoken advocate for the UA system will be challenging.

"What a magnificent run this has been, with President Hamilton leading this university for these past 11 years," Henry said. "He was hired at a time of rather low morale due to crumbling facilities and chronic underfunding. He was able to communicate with the public, elected officials and numerous other constituencies just how important the University of Alaska is for a strong state economy, especially the need to 'grow our own' for good jobs and careers right here in Alaska."

Henry said it's too early to know exactly how the search process will play out, but that she intends to keep the public, staff, faculty, students and other key stakeholders informed along the way.

Regents next plan to meet July 10 in Anchorage, but they'll quickly adjourn into executive session, which is allowable under state law to discuss personnel matters. Such matters would include initial discussions about finding a replacement for Hamilton, how the process will work, possible timelines, the need for an interim president (or not), qualities and characteristics desirable in a new president, and other considerations.

It may take board members several meetings to fully flesh out the direction in which they want to go. All formal action and decisions by the board will take place in open public meetings. The Statewide Voice will do its best to keep employees informed as the situation moves along.

UA employees, both at the system and individual campus levels, can be assured President  Hamilton is fully in charge while the search process goes forward. 

Hamilton, 64, has been at the helm of the system since August 1998. He's already discounted rumors that he wants to run for governor, saying that if he wanted to keep working, he'd stay in the best job in Alaska---running the University of Alaska system.

In making his comments at the June board meeting, Hamilton said the respect he has for faculty and staff  "is greater than they will ever know." He said he won't be involved in selecting a successor, but he offered board members this thought: "You don't need a super star. The last 11 years have shown that an average person who loves Alaska, who admires the faculty, who trusts the magnificent staff and who listens carefully to the directives and the guidance of the Board of Regents can be the steward of this wonderful institution."

He added that there will be "lots of time for farewells."

Maybe so, but many of us here at Statewide want to take this opportunity to say a hearty "thank you" to President Hamilton for all of his hard work, advocacy and support. You will be sincerely missed! 

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