U of A System Highlights

Major system wide news briefs and event recaps from across the state.


Dewain Lee, dean of students and associate vice chancellor for student development, was recently elected to the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi’s chapter relations committee as western regional vice president and to the Society’s national board of directors as regional vice president. Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.

A provisional patent was filed for UAA Professor LeeAnn Munk’s Cu isotope application which is of interest to the mining industry.

The first analysis of the economic effects of invasive species in Alaska finds that governments and nonprofit groups spent about $29 million from 2007 to 2011, or nearly $6 million a year, to manage those species. Tobias Schw�rer of UAA's Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) and Rebekka Federer and Howard Ferren of the Alaska SeaLife Center did the analysis funded by several federal and state agencies.

Provost search update: The provost search committee will begin reviewing candidates on Sept. 25 and on-campus interviews are slated for Oct. 31-Nov. 21.

Paralegal Studies Certificate Program at the Justice Center celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer. Paralegal Studies programs at UAA and UAF are the only American Bar approved programs in Alaska.

UAA hosts the 38th annual conference of the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers. The organization is meeting for the first time in Alaska.

David Dannenberg has joined UAA as director of the Faculty Technology Center. David has been working out of The Nature Conservancy's national headquarters in Arlington, Va. for the last 14 years.

UAA Professor of Art Kat Tomka received a Rasmuson Foundation Artist Fellowship Award this summer. Kat's $12,000 award in the mature artist category will help her prepare new work and develop a website. You can see a past exhibit of hers, "Breakup," on the Alaska State Museum website.


Nearly 900 students will take part in New Student Orientation Aug. 26 – 29. Students will be off to a good start with sessions on things like money management and health and safety. Residential facilities, including the Sustainable Village, are at capacity. Almost all wait-listed students applied for housing after Aug. 1. Priority housing will go to freshmen. Staff is working with students as rooms become available.

Following a review by the Engineering Accreditation Commission and the Computing Accreditation Commission, all of UAF’s BS degree programs in engineering and computer science remain ABET- accredited. Computer engineering is also now accredited retroactive to October 2010.

UAF eLearning is expanding its online course offerings by more than 15 percent. Twelve new courses will be offered this fall and 20 new courses are scheduled for spring. Two of the courses are in the UAF core.

UAF is ranked 65th out of the 256 public universities in the Forbes "America's Top Colleges" list and is 291 out of 650 total colleges and universities (public and private). The rankings compiled for Forbes by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity, focus on quality of teaching, career prospects, graduation rates and debt levels. The 2013 edition of the Princeton Review The Best 377 Colleges also lists UAF as one of the best colleges in the western region.

Larry Duffy and Phil Loring’s research presented at the International Congress on Circumpolar Health conference weighs the risks of mercury toxins in fish against the health benefits of eating fish and received coverage in the Anchorage Press.

Dan Rather recently interviewed Lawson Brigham, professor of geography and arctic policy, on the decline of summer ice in the Arctic Ocean, for Dan Rather Reports, an AXS-TV news program.

UAF and NASA gathered business, researchers, and government officials at UAA recently for the second annual Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop.

The directors of the Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity will soon be co- located with the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity in the Nordic House and provide services there. Wood Center Student Activities will support programs, initiatives and coordinate diversity events.

Pat Pitney was appointed to serve as the finance vice president for the University of the Arctic. Pitney will lead the UArctic finance office, while continuing her work at UAF. Jeff Freymueller has been named Alaska Volcano Observatory coordinating scientist. He joined the Geophysical Institute faculty in 1995.

Professor emeritus Claus-M. Naske will receive the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award at the Nanook Rendezvous in September. The association will also honor Bob Ritchie, Charles Swanton, Daniel Flodin, Terese Kaptur, Marilyn Romano and Donald Cook (posthumously).

UAF’s fall convocation will take place Sept. 13 from 1 – 2 p.m. in the Davis Concert Hall.


President Gamble addressed the UAS faculty and staff at convocation on the Auke Lake campus Aug. 22. He gave an update on the UA Strategic Direction Initiative, including the findings of Phase 1 and transition to Phase 2. The foundation of SDI is to enhance the UA core mission of teaching, learning, research with excellence. Gamble said it is student based and “all about student outcomes.” Gamble summarized five themes that emerged from outreach meetings held around the state over the past year: Improve Student Achievement, Enhance K-12 Partnerships, Increase Industry Partnerships, Expand Research & Development, and Improve Accountability to Alaskans. When asked how these themes fit into cultural support and survival, Gamble said promising initiatives are underway to try and engage rural Alaska Native high school and college students in math and science through more meaningful, relevant curriculum.

Faculty at UAS Convocation received multi-year service awards. Professor of History Robin Walz received a 15 year service award and Professor of Environmental Science Cathy Connor received a 20 year service award.

English faculty and award-winning author Ernestine Hayes gave several talks this summer and has more scheduled for fall. Hayes will speak at Stanford University where her book Blonde Indian will be part of a Feminist Studies course. Blonde Indian, an Alaska Native Memoir, won a 2007 American book Award, was a HAIL (Honoring Alaska Indigenous Literature) recipient, and was a finalist for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize and the 2007 PEN Creative Non-Fiction Award.

UAS Alaska Native Languages faculty Alice Taff and Marsha Hotch gave a presentation at the Institute on Collaborative Language Research, University of Kansas in June. Speakers and signers representing languages as diverse as Amazigh, Uda, North American Indian Sign Language, Nez Perce, and Ekegusii joined forces to raise awareness of their language communities and the endangered status of their languages.

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