Announcing AVP of Facilites and Land Management Kit Duke's Retirement from UA

Photo of Kit Duke

After 6.5 years as a revered co-worker and friend to many at the University of Alaska, Associate Vice President of Facilities and Land Management Kit Duke has announced her retirement date of June 1, 2015.

Kit arrived at the Alaska border at Beaver Creek driving a Volkswagen camper van in the spring of 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture, her husband Rhon and $100 in her pocket. After arriving at the family homestead property near Wasilla, she spent the remaining money on a wall tent to reside in as she decided her career path.

Kit’s drive and hard work distinguished her as the best person for the job at pivotal moments in Alaska’s history and in the growth of the University of Alaska. She is tireless, straightforward and innovative. Such qualities helped create the lengthy list of completed maintenance projects and buildings credited to her over 45 years of building Alaska infrastructure.

Kit has worked for the university twice during her career. Her initial position was the design project manager during the transition of the Anchorage Community College to UAA as a four-year campus. She coordinated the implementation of the UAA “spine” master plan, which connects the Wells Fargo Sports Center, Student Center and Health Occupation Buildings. The second time, she was appointed associate vice president for facilities in 2008. President Gamble expanded the position in 2011 to include land management.

"Kit has been an invaluable asset to the university administration and the Board of Regents. She exhibited talent for coordinating many players and partners as she worked with each campus. Her forward-thinking and entrepreneurial eye for assessing the combination of capital planning, land development and facility management possibilities has been remarkable and profitable. Kit’s ability to gauge the potential for capitalizing on revenue opportunities has pushed UA into a better position for maintaining a sustainable future. She has done everything I challenged her with and much more in her efforts to creatively build revenue sources," said UA President Pat Gamble. "So many of us will be sorry to see our friend go. But, I can certainly identify with her desire to spend well earned retirement years doing the things she loves with the people she cares about most."

Beyond change management, process improvement and designing structures, Kit says her biggest accomplishments are the communication bridges she built. “Achieving effective relationships involves earning trust, acting with integrity and being consistent and transparent. Making relationships a high priority is one of the most important things I’ve worked hard on since getting here. If we think about the university as a machine for living, teaching and learning, it’s very important we figure out what cog we are in that machine. What I’m doing is looking for that good fit for the people that report to me and others I come in contact with, so that we are all doing our part the best we can.”

What started as a childhood dream, to become an architect, evolved into a lifetime of accomplishments. The next step for Kit is to fully complete and occupy her cabin near Big Lake with her husband, visit the few Alaska communities she has yet to see, take up watercolor painting again and become a central part in the lives of her eight grandchildren.

Gamble said the position will not be filled until after a new university president is chosen. The Board of Regents is now involved in a nationwide search for a new president to succeed Gamble.

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