The search for a new president for the University of Alaska has come to an end.
The Board of Regents have chosen Patrick Gamble to take over for the retiring Mark Hamilton. The transition is expected to take place in June.
Gamble is definitely a solid choice and proved himself to be a strong candidate. But, some have some reservations about hiring someone without a primarily business-based background instead of extensive experience education.
Though these doubts are not without reason, there are some things that he has done in the business world that should transfer over to the University, but there are still some things that have yet to be seen.
During his visit to UAA, Gamble expressed that one of his main goals would be to keep UA as stable as possible and help it come through the recession while keeping loses to a minimum.
This could either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on people’s points of view. It means that the amount of programs at the University will, hopefully, not decrease; and also that the chances of adding new programs has definitely diminished.
People who are looking for growth, and – lets face it – the hope for most of the students, staff and faculty is that the University will grow. Growth means more jobs, more students and hopefully more recognition for the University.
Gamble is suggesting that now is not necessarily a time for growth, but instead a time for sustaining what we already have until the country finds its way out of the current economic funk that it is in.
In some ways it is difficult to argue with this goal because it makes fiscal sense, but on the other hand it is hard to accept because expansion is typically viewed as a sign of success and prosperity.
His leadership experience is probably his biggest asset. As Commander of the Pacific Air Forces, Gamble was in charge of 45,000 people. This experience will prove to be very valuable while he is at the top of the entire UA system.
He is good at managing both people and budgets, which will be a huge part of his responsibilities as UA president. More importantly, Gamble has said that he will be looking towards the chancellors and other officials to come up with plans and policies that are in the best interest of the Universities.
This makes it appear that even though he is planning on keeping UA stable, he may still be open to expansion if the different University officials come up with a solid plan.
Gamble certainly has promise, and the University system has definitely seen prosperity under its current president and it will be hard to come to terms with a sudden drop in expansion. Even though his business experience will help UA keep making its way through the recession, Gamble needs to be sure to think like an academic.
UA is an academic system and its first priority should be the well being of the students and the academic programs.