I am a lifelong Alaskan and two-time UAA alum. I was a traditional student during my undergraduate days and, most recently, a non-traditional graduate student. I say that as a means to recognize I too am entrenched in the uniqueness of Alaska culture, which has permeated its way into higher education. Over the last 10 years, I have had opportunities to meet colleagues from other higher education institutions that recognize and celebrate academia at all levels. Now that I have a different perspective of higher education outside of Alaska, I was truly inspired by the chancellor’s installation. I was able to acknowledge the symbolic academic regalia and pull significant meaning from all the other aspects of the ceremony.
The chancellor’s installation provided the foundation for our new leader’s vision (which is now our vision): UAA as a public square, building partnerships and community. The installation included a processional of Anchorage’s academic, business, political, ethnic and cultural community. Also included in the ceremony was formal acknowledgment of UAA’s presence from a member of the Athabascan community. There was additional acknowledgement and presence from other Alaskan and Lower 48 institutions on stage and in the program booklet. I do not have to comment on Chancellor Maimon’s speech because it is on the front page of UAA’s Web site, but most importantly, what she says speaks for itself.
The attendance and feedback from the broader Anchorage community was supportive and encouraging. The attendance from the UAA community was a disappointment. What is even more disappointing is our students did not see any value of having a formal acknowledgment of a new leader and a new vision for UAA. The positive side of the lack of attendance and the feedback about the installation is the public acknowledgement for the need to build community within our community. As a member of this UAA community, I am inspired and up for the challenge.
Chairita Franklin, Director of campus diversity and compliance