Category: Faculty

June 27, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

UAA leadership hosted a town hall on Friday to discuss the Alaska congressionally-approved budget for the University of Alaska system. The operating budget has been set at $317 million. The Board of Regents had previously requested an operating budget of $341 million, 10 percent less than FY14’s budget of $378 million. Pat Shier, Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, hosted the forum and said the compromised amount between the Senate and the House is a relief, seeing as the Senate proposed an operating budget of $303 million.

“This is not a high five by any means, but it is a relief,” Shier said at the Town Hall. “We still face some significant challenges.”

At the Town Hall, Shier presented a series of slides that explained how the University’s budget has declined since FY14, what reduction UAA will face and FY18 strategic investment areas. From FY14 to FY17, the University of Alaska has faced an operating budget cut of 14 percent, with the consequence of 50 academic degree or certificate programs being discontinued or suspended, 933 fewer faculty and staff and enrollment decline, according to materials presented by Shier.

For FY18 there are four areas the University of Alaska system is prioritizing as investments. The first area is student success and enrollment. In a previous article, “Decreasing Enrollment Prompts New Initiatives To Combat Falling Student Numbers,” Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services, Lora Volden, stated that student enrollment at UAA has decreased 13 percent since its peak in 2011. Other areas that the University is investing in are research, workforce development and online program development and finally, process improvement/automation.

The University of Alaska is also hoping for $5 million in the capital budget, which is still to be considered by the legislature. After a call for questions was left unanswered, Shier said University leadership would continue to update faculty and staff.

“The question I wish they would ask us, and that we could answer in this way, is will the university be here this summer, tomorrow, and the answer is an emphatic yes,” Shier said. “We will be here to educate students this summer as we are today on this campus. And this fall enrollment for traditional students is actually up. So there is a bright future for the University.”

The compromised budget announcement means that UAA will still be operating through FY18, beginning on July 1.

June 27, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
from the UA system wide email

The University of Alaska has launched a Phishing Awareness Program to reduce the number of faculty, staff and student employees who fall for email scams. Nathan Zierfuss-Hubbard, chief information security officer, at the Office of Information Technology is running the program. He defines phishing as “a targeted attack to trick somebody into giving up a credential or information of value that they don’t have any need or right to.”

Zierfuss-Hubbard said the University of Alaska has been facing an increase in phishing attacks, and the Phishing Awareness Program seeks to teach faculty and staff how to detect scam emails by crafting what looks like a phishing email, but instead of destructive links and attachments, the links will take faculty to a informational video on phishing. The program is currently underway, and Zierfuss-Hubbard said employees will be sent fake phishing emails every three months. Emails are being sent to addresses.

“The events that led up to the creation of this program had been an increase amount of targeted phishing at employees and faculty and an increased number falling for that,” Zierfuss-Hubbard said. “Phishing campaigns, we typically get two or three big ones a year. They usually start in September as faculty are coming back and then the last one that we got caught up in was in December during the break.”

In the 24 hours after the first UAA crafted phishing email was sent, 248 out of 5,483 email recipients clicked on the link, which then sent them to a 30 second training video. Out of those who clicked on the link, 143 recipients spent less than 30 seconds on the website. Three days after the email was sent 4.8 percent of all recipients who opened the email also clicked the link. Reports from Zierfuss-Hubbard after the first three days state that, of those who clicked on the scam link, 57 percent did not complete watching the training video.

Falling for a phishing attack as a University employee has some problematic consequences, according to Zierfuss-Hubbard.

“The immediate impact, for employees, is they’ve immediately lost control of their University resource accounts: the accounts that get them into Banner, the accounts that get them into email,” Zierfuss-Hubbard said.”They’ve given away their username and password to somebody they don’t know. Now that individual has all the access they’ve been granted. This isn’t necessarily problematic when an employee doesn’t have a lot of access, but for certain employees that do have a lot of access, their credential is worth a lot.

In the fake phishing email, Zierfuss-Hubbard said there were several red flags. Some of these warning signs include the fact that the email uses fear or pressure to motivate a recipient to act, the link is obscured in the email and the email is signed “System Administrator Center” which Zierfuss-Hubbard said is not jargon used by the University of Alaska.

Max McGrath, IT security analyst at UAA, said that there will always be a small percentage of email recipients who click on phishing scam links, but that scams typically target financial centers.

“We get phishing emails all the time. Often they are quite targeted, particularly towards areas where potential financial transactions can take place so Accounting Services, any place that has the ability to basically move money,” McGrath said.

If you see a suspicious email, Zierfuss-Hubbard said to report the incident to a University of Alaska IT center so they can reduce the potential impacts of such scams. McGrath said one of the struggles UAA has with security is working to keep emails secure when designated email addresses are public information.

“Trying to say, ‘yes, we are going to secure all of these,’ while at the same time providing an open academic environment, that is I think the biggest challenge,” McGrath said. “So we have to look at ways that we can provide services that allow for a good amount of openness, but that are also able to stop bad behaviors, right. So whether that is a phishing attack, a malware attack, a ransomware attack, that kind of thing.”

Mercy Rains is a student assistant for Student Clubs and Greek Life, and as a student employee, she received the phishing scam email.

“They sent out one recently with a yellow progress bar saying your email is at max capacity, you need to click on this link to expand it, and I’m like that doesn’t even look legitimate,” Raines said. “Then I saw the email they sent out later saying we were just testing you. I’m thinking this doesn’t sound like the best idea to test people’s email systems because, I don’t know why, it just made me feel like next time they see an email like that they’re going to think UAA is sending them another test email, and maybe not perceive it for the real danger it may be.”

Zierfuss-Hubbard said he is going to keep statistics to see whether there is a decrease in people clicking on links over the tenure of the program.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend
Photo by Corey Hester.jpg
Tom Case speaks at an event on UAA's campus. Case has served as the chancellor of the university for six years. Photo credit: Corey Hester

On April 12, UAA Chancellor Tom Case announced via email that he will retire this summer.

In the email sent out to students and staff on campus, Case wrote, “I am humbled to have done meaningful and rewarding work alongside passionate, dedicated people who believe in providing opportunities for students to change their lives for the better.”

In response to this resignation, UA President Jim Johnsen sent out an email regarding this announcement.

“It is with a great deal of sadness that I announce today that University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Tom Case plans to retire at the end of June,” Johnsen said in the email. “Tom has served the university with integrity, good humor and dedication…[I am] heartened by the joy he will have in retirement as well as by the excellent leadership team he has developed.”

Tom Case served as the Dean of College and Business for six years until he left for a break and returned in 2011 as the new chancellor. Case worked hard to expand the programs and facilities on campus, and oversaw the growth of the Seawolf debate team, ANSEP programs and oversaw the national success of intercollegiate programs.

“I’m going to miss the wonderful people here and the environment in which we all learn from each other and our students are afforded opportunities to make major changes in their lives,” Case said. “What I have done is help orchestrate the accomplishments of many, so I don’t take credit for my accomplishments… It’s been a team effort.”

Case’s retirement is effective June 30. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Sam Gingerich will serve as interim chancellor.

“It’s really with mixed feelings that I do retire and leave,” Case said. “But I won’t be leaving UAA. I’ll continue to support UAA in every way that I can, I believe in this institution… I think it does have a great future.”

There will be a celebration for Case’s accomplishments and his retirement on May 8 at the Varsity Center Grill in the Alaska Airlines Center from 4 – 6 p.m.

April 23, 2017 Brenda Craig
After going viral via Facebook and garnering national attention, associate professor Thomas Chung's painting depicting Captain America, President Donald Trump and a young Hilary Clinton sparked debate regarding freedom of expression. Photo credit: Young Kim

With the stroke of a paintbrush, controversy rises over an art piece that was presented at UAA’s facility art exhibition located in the Fine Arts Building. The “Everything” piece was created by Thomas Chung, assistant professor of painting, who has been teaching at UAA for over three years and has had his current position since last fall. This painting has brought up the question of the First Amendment and whether or not this piece is appropriate for public display.

The painting was inspired by the Greek myth of Perseus and Medusa, which is often shown in artwork with Perseus holding the head of Medusa. Actor Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, is displayed in Chung’s piece holding a protest sign in one hand and the decapitated head of President Donald Trump in the other, referencing the myth of Perseus and Medusa. However, Chung explains how his piece wasn’t necessarily about Trump, but the ugly side of American society that Trump has revealed.

The protest sign Captain America is holding has a quote by Chief Seattle from a letter he wrote to the U.S. before his tribe’s land was taken by force. The quote states, “Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.” Chung chose this quote carefully and if given opportunity for Trump to read his protest sign, this is what he would want it to say.

Hilary Clinton is also present in this painting, shown as her younger self, clinging onto the hero’s leg to represent how America views women. Chung wanted to make fun of how princesses are portrayed as weak and needing saving by an almighty hero.

In the background, there is a scene of a buffalo fall, a technique used to hunt buffalo by herding them off a cliff. On one of the dead buffalo, there is a graffiti tag that says ‘Make America White Again,’ a slogan that was seen around the U.S. after the election.

This painting was started as a way for Chung to express his feelings after the outcome of the presidential election.

“The painting ‘Everything’ came out of my feelings after the election last year, I felt that Trump stood for misogyny, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. When he was elected, I mourned for the death of my belief that we as a society had made progress in those societal attitudes,” Chung said. “His winning revealed to me a huge segment of the population that still believed in hate, and hated what I — and the people that I love — are.”

For about a month, the painting has been displayed without any complaints before it went viral after a Facebook post. This started a debate on freedom of expression and whether or not this painting should be protected under the university. Tom Case, UAA Chancellor, released a statement concerning the piece.

“We understand that some may not support this exhibit, but universities — including UAA — are a place for free exchange of ideas, diversity of thoughts and of opinions, and ideally, a place for conversation to occur around our differences and similarities. Fre​edom of expression is fundamental to our mission and we support our faculty and students in exploring their ideas through creativity, research and scholarship,” Case said.

Students are bittersweet about UAA’s decision to keep the painting up until the scheduled take down date, Thursday, April 20. It is questioned whether or not freedom of expression applies to professors.

“I do not believe this ‘painting’ falls under freedom of expression. Professors are not paid to make political statements, they are paid to teach. Freedom of expression applies to individuals, not universities that accept public funding,” Jarod Grice, mechanical engineering major, said.

While freedom of expression for students is important, some believe that outspoken political views, especially from a professor, is unprofessional.

“Personal politics do not belong in institutions of learning, period. It should be a place of acceptance and tolerance for people of all beliefs and political stance, respect given to all, not just the ones that those in power agree with,” Rachel Yoncher, psychology major, said. “It is their job to teach their students how to express what they feel and figure it out for themselves and give them the courage to do so, not to give themselves a platform to push their own.”

An issue with the university supporting the painting by keeping it up until the end of the exhibition is that some feel that this reflects UAA’s political beliefs.

“What’s most surprising to me is that UAA allowed this professor to display this painting, appearing as if UAA shares the same political views. It’s embarrassing to be attending a university that encourages staff to reveal their political affiliations to students,” Grice said. “Professor Chung can now be added to the growing list of incompetent professors employed by UAA, in a situation like this I can only say what I believe Donald Trump would say: ‘What a disgrace.’”

This is not the first time there has been controversial political artwork on campus. The “Everything” piece, along with other political pieces have been displayed and supported by the university.

“I would be really disappointed in UAA if they censored artwork, and this is not the only artwork on campus to focus Trump in a negative light, the same of Obama when he was in office. People have a political voice, and in true artist form you can see that expression all over the Fine Arts Building,” Kayla Anaya, painting major, said.

The discussion about the painting being displayed has brought up the topic of censorship. If UAA had decided to take down the piece, some question how that would impact future decisions on controversial work and conversations on campus.

“It does come down to the First Amendment and this should be a place where these kinds of conversations should happen, if I was asked to take it down, where do we draw the line? And what kind of a place would this be if the university could decide what’s appropriate and what’s not or what even a student can say or talk about?” Chung said.

College can be seen as a sacred place where discussions on controversial topics can take place in a safe manner. Expressing different viewpoints are encouraged for both professors and students to form their opinions in a respectful way.

“I won’t say if I personally agree or disagree with the paintings content, but it is the right of the professor and any student to display their beliefs in a way that doesn’t inflict physical harm on another, and when that happens, it is my right to engage in discussion about it, whether it be for or against the topic,” Clarissa Kyselov, anthropology major, said. “No one, including faculty on campus and the public off campus, should be allowed to take away that right or shut down an opposing viewpoint.”

UAA’s decision to keep the painting up has shown that professors and students freedom of expression is protected on campus.

“I hope what students take away from this is that no matter where they fall, college and UAA will be supportive, I know I can speak for this department that we will foster everyone’s point of views no matter what and I think that’s such an important part of this program,” Chung said. “If anything else, I hope that students just know that they should be brave if they believe in something that they can speak up about it here and they’ll be supported.”

Although the “Everything” painting was taken down on April 20, the discussion of the painting has gone national. Chung has been receiving nonstop emails and phone calls since his painting went viral. Through the death threats and name calling, Chung has also received great support for painting what he believed in. At UAA, academic freedom for professors and students is supported by the administration.

October 30, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

On Oct. 20, the Chancellor’s office emailed the UAA community about a new mandatory sexual discrimination training called Haven. The email stated that Haven training, and training’s in general, could make a difference on campus by raising awareness of sex discrimination. This goal of further awareness led to a new school-wide goal for all faculty,…

October 17, 2016 Taylor Curry

Bill Spindle, the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services for UAA, is leaving the school after 17 years. Bill has spent 35 years working in public organizations, as well as serving 25 years in the United States Air Force. He has an education doctorate in organizational leadership, as well as a master’s degree in business administration…

May 23, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

Most of us have had the experience of whipping out our smartphones to capture an “out-of-the-ordinary” event in public to share on Facebook or YouTube.   A global audience comes built in with video-sharing platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo, that is, if you can deliver what people like. And boy, do humans love the…

April 29, 2015 Kjersti Andreassen

As soon as this semester ends, Professor of English Clay Nunnally is retiring after 45 years at UAA. Nunally is something of a UAA legend, known well for impromptu poetry recitations in class and sharp wardrobe. Many know him simply by his glasses, suit, matching tie and handkerchief, and the carnation in his lapel. That’s…

March 24, 2015 Samantha Davenport

For the past several months, UAA has been searching for a new provost. A national search process identified four candidates for the position: Murray Nabors, Neil Ringler, John Murray and Elizabeth Hendrey. In the end, pros and cons from the search committee were recognized and Chancellor Tom Case ultimately made the decision to hire Samuel Gingerich.

Diane Hirshberg, professor of Education Policy and Faculty Senate president, sat on the search committee to hire the new provost.

“We didn’t hire a provost out of the search. I was consulted by the chancellor as he was trying to decide what to do. It’s hard, because normally you do want a search to be successful and this ends up being a non-standard procedure. What I will say is I really liked some of the finalists, but I had some concerns on whether they had the depth of experience given the current situation,” Hirshberg said. “I believe that if we weren’t facing such a fiscal crisis and a lot of turning in leadership, then some of the candidates could have been mentored into being excellent provosts. I just think that at the time there was a lot of concern. I think that Samuel brings the strengths needed. I call him a ringer. He has been vice president of a system before, he’s been a provost, he’s been a dean, so I think he will bring a lot of insight and prospective.”

Samuel Gingerich talked to The Northern Light about his background experience.

“I grew up on a dairy farm in Northern New York. I attended college in Northern Indiana and got my undergraduate degree in chemistry. Shortly after I got a master’s in chemistry from Cornell University. After I took a couple year hiatus from education and did some other fun things. I re-enrolled in graduate school at Montana State University, got a Ph.D. in chemistry. I worked at the University of Nevada for a couple years, then got my first faculty position in chemistry at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I served as a faculty member there and was promoted through the ranks, earned tenure. I served as a department chair and then was given an opportunity to become the associate vice president of Academic Affairs. I left there in the late ‘90s and went to Colorado Mesa University and served as provost for a number of years. I was also given the opportunity to serve as the interim president for about 15-18 months. From there, I went to Mississippi University for Women, where I spent a couple years as provost vice president of Academic Affairs. At that point in time I got a call from some people I knew in South Dakota and they invited me to apply for the job as assistant vice president of Academic Affairs. I have spent the last eight years in South Dakota working. In June I retired from that position. My wife had begun working up here as the Associate Vice Provost from Institutional Research about a year ago. I sort of became the trailing spouse and came up here,” he said.”

Rashmi Prasad, College of Business and Public Policy dean, was the chair of the provost search committee.

“I think the chancellor was weighing the challenges of socializing and incorporating a new person into such a critical role in comparison to the fact that Sam Gingerich is extremely seasoned, very experienced, and also demonstrated that he was a very quick study and had a very good grasp of the situation,” Prasad said.

Amidst fiscal difficulties, searching for a new president, and dean searches, UAA has chosen Gingerich to spearhead issues within his specialty.

March 5, 2015 Kierra Hammons

The University of Alaska system is seeking a new president, following current president Pat Gamble’s resignation announcement Dec. 15. The University of Alaska Ex-Officio Presidential Search Advisory Committee met for the first time last month and will meet again in a series of closed meetings to make applicant recommendations to the Board of Regents, which…

February 11, 2015 Victoria Petersen

The University of Alaska Anchorage released its latest program prioritization report Feb. 3. UAA Chancellor Tom Case and his cabinet evaluated 313 academic programs and 178 support functions, then placed them into five quintiles based on budgets and alignment with UAA’s mission. The first quintile described programs that have potential growth and strong need for…

February 2, 2015 Kelly Ireland

The search committee for UAA’s new provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs is coming to a close. In Dec. 2014 the former Provost Elisha R “Bear” Baker, IV retired. Even before his official retirement date the search for a new provost began. On Sept. 16, 2014 Chancellor Tom Case announced his selection for the search committee. The committee has since then narrowed down their selection to four candidates.

The Dean of College of Business and Public Policy, Rashmi Prasad, chaired the search committee for provost. He was joined by many other prominent faculty and staff from the university who represented the different colleges and departments.  Stacey Lucason, USUAA student body president, also had a place in the committee to represent the UAA students. The committee also worked alongside a consultant, Tom Fitch, from the organization Academic Search, Inc. to bring in candidates and advertise the position. The same company will be used in the UA president search.

The first candidate for provost, Murray Nabors, whose currently the dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Missouri Western State University, visited UAA on Jan. 29 and 30. The next candidates, who have yet to be announced, will be visiting in the following weeks. Candidate number 2 will be visiting Feb. 5 and 6. Candidate number 3 will be at UAA Feb. 12 and 13. The last candidate will be visiting Feb. 16 and 17. According to Prasad each of them is from out of state and there are both male and female candidates.

“All of them have a lot of administrative experience, so there’s nobody who isn’t a seasoned administrator. Almost everyone has been a dean for multiple years. We value experience as a dean or provost a great deal. So most of them have held positions like that or have at least been at the vice president level of their university… and have strong track records of innovation and success,” Prasad said.

Prasad said that the search committee is looking for a provost who is a strong, capable, resilient leader with experience in management as well as an extensive knowledge of higher education. They would also like a provost who appreciates and embodies UAA values. The committee wants someone with a good track record.

As far as specific goals the committee wants a future provost to have, Prasad said, “Develop and refine a vision for UAA. UAA at this point of transition needs to clarify the vision of what kind of university does it want to be in the long term. So that while we’re dealing with a difficult environment, while we’re dealing with cuts and challenges, we deal with them with a horizon or a north star as it were, a guiding star.”

Within the committee Faculty Senate President, Diane Hirshberg pushed qualities and attributes that faculty wanted to see in a new provost. The faculty senate executive board brainstormed those qualities during the initial stages of the search.

“We were very concerned that we have someone who is a strong proponent of shared governance, a collaborative, but also strong leader and someone committed to UAA… We of course want those basic things that a provost should have… We also want a provost who will embrace our very inclusive model of decision making,” said Hirshberg.

Hirshberg also said, that it’s important for the new provost to look at what UAA does well and developing those things more, “When you take a step back and look at the changes that have happened over the past ten years here, it’s really exciting, and we want someone who can take on the challenges of a difficult financial climate and contentious governance issues and identify the opportunities for strengthening what we do. That’s really important – faculty want to be optimistic and we need leadership who can guide us in that direction.”

Despite the numerous parties that hold stakes in who is chosen, the ultimate decision for provost comes down to Chancellor Tom Case. After the candidates visit the search committee will provide Chancellor Case with the pros and cons of each applicant and the input from the community. He will then be responsible for the final selection of provost. No official date for the announcement has been set, but will likely come towards the end of February.

February 2, 2015 George Hyde

On January 22, Governor Bill Walker unveiled new operating and capital budgets to the public and submitted them to the legislature. Overall, state spending has been cut by around 5 percent, and many departments have received somewhat large cuts, including a total cut to the Alaska Aerospace Corporation. Walker even went so far to say that if oil prices didn’t rebound, the state would need to begin discussion on new tax policies.

By contrast, the University of Alaska system has received a relatively low cut, down 2.4 percent from this current fiscal year. However, several factors can add to that statistic.

“This number does not include some increased costs that UA will be expected to cover (such as pay raises, new building operating costs, and utilities increases), which will make the effective budget reduction much higher than 2.4 percent,” said Chris Christensen, the Associate Vice President of State Relations from the University of Alaska.

Chris Turletes, UAA’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities and Campus Services, had many things to say about the Governor’s FY16 budget.

“From the facilities perspective, it’s a triple whammy,” said Turletes. “No capital budget means no new construction and very limited renewal funding – which means renewal projects that fix the infrastructure and building systems, like heating, lighting, elevators, and roofs, will have to wait another year or more before we get to them.”

Turletes also pointed out that the budget didn’t include many funds required to fund operation of many of UAA’s new buildings, like the Alaska Airlines Center or the upcoming Engineering Building. In addition, with rising utility costs, students can expect reduced Seawolf Shuttle service, cooler and warmer indoor temperatures in the winter and summer respectively, fewer student employees, and more temporary repairs. While the UA system formulates a financial plan for the next fiscal year, all of these things are on the table.

While it seems harsh, Turletes hopes students and faculty will persevere.

“The campus community can help by conserving the use of UAA’s energy, cleaning up after themselves, and reporting emergency conditions to Facilities.”
Turletes also encourages the community to contact the Governor’s office to ask for support for the UA system’s own operating budget.

November 11, 2014 Stephen Cress

UAA Chancellor Tom Case has appointed Samuel Gingerich to serve as interim provost for UAA until a fulltime provost is hired.

Case sent a memo to UAA staff and faculty on Oct. 30, detailing Gingerich’s 30-year career in higher education. According to Case, Gingerich previously served as the System Vice President for Academic Affairs for the South Dakota Board of Regents for eight years. Gingerich has also served as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Mississippi University for Women as well as Colorado Mesa University.

“With the incredible depth of experience that Gingerich has in higher education, I’m confident that he will be an incredible asset to UAA during this critical transition,” Case’s letter reads.

According to Case’s memo, Gingerich’s background is in chemistry, where he is an active researcher and contributor in the field. Gingerich received his masters of science in chemistry from Cornell University and received his Ph.D. from Montana State University.

Gingerich is scheduled to join the University of Alaska on Dec. 1 and will officially take his position on Jan. 1, 2015, until a new provost is hired in the spring. Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Bear Baker will retire on Dec. 31 and will work closely with Gingerich to ensure a smooth transition into his new post.

January 21, 2014 Evan Erickson

First, take the over 300 programs and 200 or so functions that constitute UAA and have staff and faculty describe their importance. Next, assemble two respective task forces culled from staff and faculty for the purpose of evaluating the responses.

November 26, 2013 Evan Erickson

USUAA and Alaska state legislators persevered through a handsome ice storm to sit down for lunch Friday afternoon in the Student Union Den. All but two guests were able to attend the event, which was cut short by campus closures.

November 12, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

As part of Engage Week, UAA’s Smoke-Free Task Force, Seawolf Debate, the Journalism and Public Communications Department, and the Department of Health hosted a soapbox debate about whether or not UAA should initiate a comprehensive smoke-free policy.

November 5, 2013 Evan Erickson

Faculty and administration are working to iron out the kinks in the juggernaut that is prioritization. Many details of the massive assessment of programs and services at UAA are still undecided, but several decisions have been reached following motions passed by the faculty Senate.

October 22, 2013 Evan Erickson

The bustle slowed to a murmur this past May as UAA students broke away from class loads and many faculty and staff members disappeared for the summer. While it didn’t seem like much was going on, radical changes were being implemented within the College of Arts and Sciences. Twenty-eight administrative positions were to be eliminated, and the 24 departments that comprise the CAS would be grouped under four different divisions: Humanities, Social Sciences, Fine Arts and Math/Natural Sciences. A centrally located hub would oversee the operations of each of the four divisions.

The first mention came in April, but the change was officially announced at the monthly CAS Council of Chairs and Directors meeting May 10. According to several faculty present, it was only in the final minutes of the meeting that the new hub system was announced, leaving little time for discussion.

An apology letter was emailed May 13 to the CAS chairs and directors on behalf of Dean of CAS John Stalvey.

In the letter Stalvey states, “I want to apologize for rushing out of the meeting on Friday. I made a mistake in allowing meetings to be scheduled back-to-back on Friday. … For those of you who are available, I have reserved the CAS conference room at 11 a.m. on Wednesday May 15 to provide you information on the reorganization of the CAS Academic Support Staff.”

In the meantime faculty and staff who were still on campus scheduled an impromptu meeting for that same Wednesday at noon to voice their concerns about their lack of involvement in the change.

Soon after, the various administrative assistants throughout the CAS were told that their positions would be eliminated June 30 and that they could apply for new jobs within the CAS and elsewhere in the university.

The university rehired nearly all of the displaced administrative assistants during the summer. There was a certain amount of shuffling as administrators who had worked in a single department were now dealing with entire divisions — some in entirely different divisions than they had come from. Several administrators became hub academic advisers.

According to Stalvey, along with the goal of increasing the number of academic advisers in the college, there was also a financial aspect to the change.

“The change from administrative assistants freed up approximately $325,000,” Stalvey said.

Stalvey also said about half of the money went into hiring additional academic advisers and another $100,000 went into other positions in the CAS.

CAS Academic Coordinator John Mun says the hub advising system is working on being more effective in identifying students who may benefit most from advising.

“Division-wide advisers are more aware of GER and overall requirements. It’s allowing us to do more pro-active outreach in contacting students,” Mun said.

UAA’s College of Arts and Sciences website lists the new academic advisers and positions in the hub’s and dean’s office, but the website has no mention of the hub change having happened.

Stalvey became CAS dean in 2012 and says he didn’t arrive from his previous job at Kent State University expecting to implement major changes at UAA. Stalvey explained that the budget for the CAS necessitated the change.

“By June I knew resources weren’t going to grow,” Stalvey said.

As for the model that would eventually become the hub, Stalvey says it was an ongoing process over the 2012-13 academic year.

“We weren’t settled on it in the fall. I believe it was after the first of the year. The reason I told folks in April was it was being considered by UA system-wide Human Resources,” Stalvey said.

“It was crazy to do it when everybody was away. They should have asked us in Fine Arts,” said associate music professor Karen Strid-Chadwick.

Stalvey said it would have been much more difficult to implement the changes during the school year and is clear about his responsibilities in the CAS.

“The curriculum is the responsibility of the faculty. The administrative structure is the responsibility of the dean,” Stalvey said.

The CAS is the largest college in the entire University of Alaska system as well as being physically very long. The divisional hubs for some departments are more than a half-mile distant. The problem was addressed with the addition of several satellite offices but faculty still need to adjust to not having dedicated administrative help in their individual departments.

“We have somebody working in our office who replaced (previous administrator) Erin Day. I don’t know when I ask her a question if she’s on our time or someone else’s,” said assistant journalism professor Elizabeth Arnold.

Some welcome the hub.

“I think it’s been a wonderful change. I’m one of those who thought the change was needed and that it was a good change. The position descriptions were more clearly laid out,” said biological sciences professor Loren Buck.

The last time a hub system was implemented at UAA was in 1998 with the College of Business and Public Policy, a much smaller college centrally located in Rasmuson Hall.

In its first semester, the long-term success of UAA’s most recent hub remains to be seen.


October 22, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

There is no safe exposure amount to smoke. This is the message UAA’s Smoke-Free Task Force hopes to communicate. The task force was formed in response to a challenge made by the United States Department of Health and Human Services for all college campuses to go smoke and tobacco free by 2016.

October 22, 2013 Evan Erickson

In spring 2012 the Northern Light mourned the loss after seven years of the UAA Housing & Recreation Activities program in an editorial chastising the university’s budgetary reasoning.

Now a group of students and faculty is hoping to bring back outdoor opportunities — not only to students who live on campus but to everyone at UAA. This time around the money would come from a student fee.

About a dozen students and one faculty member met Oct. 11 to share ideas on the types of things that might be possible with the fee. Professor of health, physical education and recreation T.J. Miller, a veteran of the previous program, was there to lend his expertise.

“I helped create it (the previous program) in Housing & Recreation Activities. It’s sort of a revival of that idea, but available to all students, staff and faculty,” Miller said.

One of the ideas is a shuttle bus to Alyeska resort for a day of skiing and snowboarding at a fraction of the cost. There is also mention of hosting lectures by outdoor experts.

USUAA Vice President Cassie West has designated the group as an ad-hoc committee, meaning they can now set to work drafting a bill to appear on the ballot for the spring 2014 UAA Student General Election.

The committee is relying on feedback to determine whether students would be willing to pay a fee, and if so, what types of activities they are most interested in. Students, staff and faculty are asked to take part in the short survey at


October 11, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

Congress failed to reach an agreement last week on a budget to fund the government for the next year, which caused a government shutdown. This means all non-essential programs, such as the panda cam, will be closed, and workers will remain on furlough until an agreement is reached.

According to Eric Pederson, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment Services, UAA is holding a wait-and-see position on this right now. When sequestration began, the same thing happened, but the decision was quickly reversed.

Affected students should stay in contact with the Military Programs Office on JBER, Military and Veteran’s Student Services in the Student Union Building or Enrollment Services in the University Center for information.

The shutdown will affect certain categories of UAA students, particularly students who are relying on the tuition assistance program for active duty soldiers. This program is currently suspended for any new claims, and payments for courses that start after Oct. 1 will not be paid.

Students who rely on this program have been advised not to begin courses if they fall into this category. Active duty soldiers who are in late-starting classes have been urged to drop the courses and have until the end of the first week of class to do so.

International students could also be affected by the government shutdown and can expect a delay in all processing for every type of action UAA a student might need. One of the biggest concerns for international students is the closure of the Social Security Office. This means international students wanting to work on campus will not be able to get a social security card, which is required for on-campus employment.

International students intending to begin classes in January might also be delayed, because consular services overseas will be limited, reducing their abilities to get visa appointments. International students interested in Optional Practical Training should contact David Racki in Enrollment Services to discuss what the shutdown might mean for them. International students are encouraged to apply for this program early, because slower processing of applications is expected.

Students who are relying on federal student aid programs such as the Pell Grant and Direct Student loans are not impacted at this time. The Department of Education is saying it will keep the offices staffed so that service to schools and students continues. Students should not worry if they are waiting for last-minute aid for fall to be disbursed, nor should they worry about spring semester aid.

“Alaska state aid programs are not impacted in any way that we know of,” states Pederson.

Pederson states, “We don’t know how many students and their families might be experiencing a furlough or reduced work hours because they work for the federal government, or on a contract with the federal government. Any students who find themselves in that situation who begins to worry or have trouble paying their tuition bill should come forward and let someone know, their advisor, enrollment services, financial aid, that way we can look into helping the students. We don’t have information on where they work in a database and we want to do what we can to help them out.”

Pederson also states there could be students, staff and faculty working on projects funded by federal grants, and their funding could be significantly impacted due to the shutdown.

Students should seek help as soon as needed. The next payment deadline and late fee for students is Nov. 1. Any student who planned to have his or her bill paid by then and is experiencing trouble because of the shutdown should contact Enrollment Services this week or next.

Pederson says students can call Enrollment Services One Stop at 907-786-1480, but it might be best to visit the offices at the University Center, because students might need help from more than one office.


October 1, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

“It’s about leadership and collaboration. We must focus on the students and listen to the students, even when they burst our bubble. When we think that we have it nailed, and then talk to a group of students, and they say, ‘No, that’s not where we are at. That was 10 years ago,’ we must listen,” said University of Alaska President Pat Gamble at last week’s Board of Regents meeting in Juneau.

Gamble is referring to the University of Alaska system’s Strategic Directive Initiative, or SDI.

“SDI is about collaboration,” he says. “Collaboration means incentive.”

For the university, this means building a reputation and creating an environment that nourishes both student values and academic satisfaction. In order for the university to be successful at this goal, Gamble says the university needs to create attraction, and that attraction is the incentive.

“Take service, and make it a watchword,” Gamble said. “That’s what creates retention. Retention creates enrollment, and enrollment goes to the bottom line.”

The University of Alaska system is currently in stage 3 of its Strategic Directive Initiative. The SDI seeks to change and improve the culture of the University of Alaska system and make strides to “Shape Alaska’s Future” by 2017, which is the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the School of Agriculture and School of Mines, which eventually morphed into present-day University of Alaska.

According to the Shaping Alaska’s Future website, one of the “guiding principles” of the SDI “is about making our culture more focused on continuous improvement, especially with respect to student success and service to students.”

Students, staff, faculty and alumni are all welcome to participate in helping the university meet these goals. There have been 80 listening sessions, and there is an online survey that can be taken to assist the university in finding where there are problems that need to be addressed.

At present, the results of the listening sessions and surveys have yielded five key areas of improvement: student achievement and attainment, productive partnerships with Alaska schools, productive partnerships with public entities and private industries, research and development to sustain Alaska’s communities and economic growth, and accountability to the people of Alaska.

Many improvements have already been put into practice and have had positive results. Student credit load has increased, which is making a difference in the six-year graduation rate for baccalaureate degree-seeking students.

“The more credits a student takes, the most likely they are to finish their degrees,” says Board of Regents Vice President Kirk Wickersham.

Graduation rates for students pursuing associate or certificate degree programs is flat.

“The reason is, we budgeted money for an increase in baccalaureate advising, and that budget has already gone into affect,” Wickersham said.

He also says the university has a budget to increase advising for associate and certificate programs, but that budget has yet to be initiated. Once this budget is initiated, the university expects to see an increase in graduation for those programs as well.

After reviewing 64 academic programs, the university decided to suspend or teach out nine of them, which means all teaching positions for these programs will eventually be dissipated. Suspension means no new students may enroll in the program, and the university will be looking into better course materials and accreditation for that particular program.

The University of Alaska system is working on improving distance and e-learning opportunities for students in rural areas. It has also partnered with the Alaska Learning Network, whose mission is to make education more accessible. AKLN is a district-to-district program that involves 54 different school districts in Alaska and has a six-member board of school superintendents.

AKLN’s goals are to create a rigorous and creative curriculum, expand programs of study and dual enrollment, increase professional development for educators and expand on educational partnership.

An initiative was brought before the board to raise tuition by 3 percent, which would mean a $6 increase per credit hour for undergraduate credits and an increase of $12 per credit hour for graduate credits, and would be implemented during the 2014-2015 school year. This raise in tuition would bring the school $1.3 million in revenue, but it would only be one-third of the school’s operating cost. The board will vote on the tuition raise Nov. 6 in Anchorage.

Regents passed the decision onto UA President Pat Gamble to implement differential tuition for the School of Management in Fairbanks, in order to help with rising tuition costs for that program. The Board of Regents passed a motion to vote on this proposal during the next meeting, stating the dean neglected to give them more information about this motion.

Development has raised more money during Fiscal Year 13 than in years past. A total of $17 million has been raised.

Human Resources plans to address the issue of bullying among staff and faculty by implementing anti-bullying training. This training would assist supervisors to recognize bullying before getting a complaint. Human Resources is also working on implementing a hotline for staff to anonymously report bullying and other issues where reporters wish to remain anonymous.

Agenda items for the next Board of Regents meeting include the Arctic Region Computing Center, Capital Budgeting, SB241 and the Teacher Equality report.

The board approved (Source: Kate Ripley, UA Public Affairs):

  • The UAA campus Master Plan.
  • An amendment to the UAF campus master plan to allow a solar aray installation and subsequent request for proposals for the project.
  • An Associate of Applied Science degree, physical therapy assistant, at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
  • An Associate of Science degree at UAS.
  • A $10 million debt issue for UAF for partial funding of the engineering building, currently under construction.
  • A schematic design for the UAF animal quarters facility relocation.
  • A one-year agreement between UA and the 10-member Fairbanks Fire Fighters Union at UAF.



September 24, 2013 Thomas McIntyre

Keith Hackett was officially introduced as the new athletic director at a press conference Friday afternoon. He used the event to share his vision for UAA athletics and to address some lingering questions. Hackett’s plan for the department is a three-headed monster.

The first step is ensuring they are always in alignment with the educational mission of the university. He wants to stress the “student” aspect of being a student-athlete.

May 1, 2013 Keldon Irwin

Every few years UAA says farewell to decent staff and faculty who have dedicated numerous years of service the the university. The Northern Light sat down with three professors, Robin Crittenden, Robert Crosman, and red bradley, to see what they will leave behind and what their aspirations for the future are.

February 21, 2013 J. Almendarez

Chancellor Tom Case is scheduled to attend a Q&A session with students this week, giving them the opportunity to ask questions about the future of UAA. The event is at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on the second floor of the Student Union, directly outside the Student Life and Leadership office in Room 218.

July 25, 2012 Evan Dodd

A recent proposal by University of Alaska President Pat Gamble would increase resident undergraduate tuition by 2 percent for the 2013-2014 school year. The proposed hike would be the smallest increase since the late 1990s and would apply to all students of the 16 campuses within the UA system.

The increase in tuition is meant to offset high operating costs as well as combat the nationwide problem of inflation. The limited hike is unusual when compared to the relatively high rate of increase by the UA system over the past decade.

“I think that this is a significant message from the President Gamble about his commitment to students and the importance of keeping costs down in Alaska,” said Bruce Schultz, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. “Students should understand that a 2 percent hike still does not cover the increased costs by the university.”

According to Gamble, the proposed hike would result in an approximate $3 increase for lower division credits and a $4 increase for upper division. For an in-state, undergraduate student taking 30 credits per year, this would raise tuition from $5475 to $5580, an increase of $105. Figures for graduate and non-resident tuition have not yet been determined.

Schultz explained that the additional income generated by the increase will bring an estimated $900,000 to UAA. Gamble says that the money will be used to cover a wide variety of academic program expenses and operating costs for the university.

“It’s important for students to understand that at UAA, tuition accounts for about 33% of the cost to provide educational service,” explained Schultz. “Just like everything else, our costs increase over time with inflation. If you look at the consumer price index increase from last year, we are actually on par nationally.”

Recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 1.7 percent national increase in the consumer Price Index (CPI) between July 2011 and July 2012. Additionally, the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) reported a 2.3 percent increase between 2010 and 2011, thus placing the UA tuition increase on even footing with the national average.

The UA system also remains competitive when compared to other public universities within the region. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) reports that the University of Alaska is ranked as having the sixth lowest tuition out of the fifteen states that comprise the western region.

“In terms of Alaska’s peers in the Western Region, we have maintained an average resident tuition of 5,500, as compared to the overall average of 7,100,” explained Gamble. “We are comfortably below the average in the entire region. Additionally the average tuition increase has been 13.7% as compared to our 4.3%”

Gamble emphasized his commitment to students, explaining that he understood student’s concerns about rising tuition costs.

“The idea that we can drop a 7 or 8 or double digit increase worked when tuition was a relatively small cost, but that is no longer the case,” said Gamble. “Tuition has finally reached a point of national attention; this is something that some students are protesting in the street about. Students demand service and value for their money.”

The University of Alaska is no stranger to protests against tuition increases; in 2010 students organized multi-campus protests against a 22 percent increase proposed by former UA President Mark Hamilton.

This time however, public perception of the proposal has been generally positive.

“This is the single lowest proposed increase in over a decade, it’s important for people to remember that,” said USUAA Vice President Andrew McConnell. “Tuition increases are going to happen; it’s inevitable. As a student, I would love it if tuition would go down, but that just isn’t going to happen.”

McConnell emphasized USUAA’s role in maintaining reasonable rate for students and expressed his approval of the limited increase.

“This is actually a better outcome than we expected. We were prepared to have to fight against another 7 or 8 percent increase,” said McConnell. “We will be working with President Gamble to ensure that the increase does not go up.”

In regards to possible student concerns over the tuition hike, Gamble expressed his commitment to providing reasonably priced, quality education to the state of Alaska.

“Concerns about cost increases are always relative,” said Gamble. “The idea that we go around talking about how well some areas are doing doesn’t make people feel better. What makes people feel better is showing them that we are committed to maintaining affordable costs with a valuable education.”

The proposed increase will go to the UA Board of Regents for review in September and, if approved, will take effect in the fall of 2013.


June 27, 2012 Kierra Hammons

On the afternoon of June 11, buses were running late all across town as People Mover bus drivers explained a new fare box system to boarding passengers along their routes. Though the new fare boxes held back the bus schedule on that day, now that passengers are more familiarized with the process, they streamline the…