Patrick Gamble, the current president and CEO of the Alaska Railroad, has been announced as the next University of Alaska president.
Gamble, the only one of the three presidential candidates coming from an institution outside of the educational system, accepted the position after a long deliberation by the Board of Regents.
Mark Hamilton, the current UA president, shares a similar history with Gamble. Both have held high positions in the military; Hamilton preceded his position of UA president as a Major General in the U.S. Army and Gamble was commander of the Pacific Air Forces as a four-star general, prior to overseeing the Alaska Railroad.
“We believe Pat has the leadership skills, the management expertise and familiarity with the state of Alaska that will serve UA well,” said Board Chair Cynthia Henry. “We are impressed by his support for the University of Alaska and his interest in addressing the issues we face.”
Gamble was chosen over Lisa Rossbacher, president of Southern Polytechnic State University and John Pugh, UAS chancellor.
“I suppose the board was comfortable with choosing someone with a similar history as Mark Hamilton,” Fran Ulmer said. “The regents made the decision by looking for someone with strong management and who had a variety of management experiences in the military and public.”
Gamble said his number one priority as president will be to ensure a quality education for students. He also wants to gain more public support for the University of Alaska, continue the university’s strong presence in research important to Alaskans and engage the University in broader state economic development opportunities. As president of the Alaska Railroad, Gamble broadened the economic development of the corporation by overseeing an increase of around 300 percent in assets. He also doubled net earnings and increased revenue by 70 percent.
“I have had the opportunity to meet Gamble many times,” Ulmer said. “He always had something positive to say.”
“People who have worked with him a long time note that he is a good manager with good skills, and I respect people that have said that.”
Indeed, Gamble considers his own greatest strength to be leadership. In his resume he notes that he is “known for face to face, consensus building, participative governance style,” and that his “reputation and personal leadership philosophy [are] synonymous with outstanding character and performance. [I am] no stranger to unpleasant decision making such as tough recession-proofing cost saving measures.”
Gamble has served on two advisory boards at UAA: the school of business board and aviation board, “so he knows a little about us,” Ulmer said.
“I will work very hard during this transition to help him get to know us better.”
In the press release announcing Gamble’s acceptance, it was stated that the board expects a smooth transition between the two presidents to occur in June.
As president of the UA system, Gamble will earn a $295,000 annual salary.
“I’m excited but humbled by this opportunity,” Gamble said. “I have a high degree of respect for the University of Alaska, its mission and its service to students. This is a very important appointment, but it’s not one I’ll do alone. I look forward to working with a variety of people in the months and years ahead, including our students, faculty, staff, community members, elected officials, alumni, donors, business partners and others with an interest in the success of this institution.”
“We believe Pat has the leadership skills, the management expertise and familiarity with the state of Alaska that will serve UA well,” Henry. “We are impressed by his support for the University of Alaska and his interest in addressing the issues we face. We’re very pleased he’s accepted our offer.”