{News in Brief}

Purcell rejection followed policy

A five-member panel, called to review the appeal of student Michael Purcell, announced May 10 that the rejection of his application to the UAA School of Social Work was in accordance with college policy. Purcell has been denied entrance to the school’s bachelor degree program twice, most recently in April, because of a first-degree murder conviction. Purcell served 20 years of a 37 year prison sentence for a 1984 armed robbery and murder. Paroled in 2002, Purcell enrolled in social work classes at UAA. The panel was made up of four faculty from the School of Social Work and one student from outside the department. The panel, which was called to decide whether or not school policy was followed, will pass its decision to Cheryl Easley, dean of the College of Health and Social Welfare who will make a final decision. The panel also recommended that school policy be changed to make rehabilitation a consideration in the application process.


Diplomacy Building evacuated

A traffic accident at the intersection of Tudor Road and Tudor Center Drive caused the evacuation of the UAA Diplomacy Building, May 12. A vehicle was hit while turning left onto Tudor Center Drive and sent careening over the sidewalk, tearing out a natural gas main before sideswiping a Department of Corrections van and slamming into a new Ford Explorer owned by building manager Marcia Trudgen. At least eight vehicles were involved in the accident. No serious injuries were reported. An employee of the building’s Department of Corrections office pulled the fire alarm to evacuate in case of a gas leak, Trudgen said. The building evacuation lasted about an hour. There is no estimate yet on the extent of the damage to UAA.


Pollution study receives boost

This spring, LeeAnn Munk, assistant professor of geological sciences, was awarded three research grants worth a total of $173,000. With the grants, she and a team of students will conduct research this summer on metal contaminants in Alaska watersheds. A $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will support Munk’s research on potentially toxic metals in the Anchorage watershed. Munk plans to study how metals such as lead, zinc, copper and cadmium make their way through the watershed and into the food web. Munk also received a grant of $113,000 from the Department of the Interior. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, Munk will continue work in Prince William Sound to determine the annual flux of metal contaminants from abandoned copper mine tailings to the environment. A remotely operated vehicle will obtain samples of water, rock sediment and biota in the near-shore environment. In the first study of its kind in Alaska, a $10,000 grant from the National Park Service will allow Munk to study freshwater mussels as bio-indicators of potentially toxic metals in Katmai National Park.


UAA gets $1.15 million grant

Vara Allen-Jones, assistant vice provost for student success, and Tara Koeckritz, fiscal manager for the Academic Center for Excellence, authored a successful grant application, garnering $1.15 million for UAA from the Department of Education. The application received a perfect score and fell within the top 10 percent of all student support services grants. Because of its high ranking, UAA was awarded an additional year of funding for the grant, for a total of $217,000 per year for five years. The money will provide services to 160 eligible low-income, first-generation and/or disabled college students attending UAA. These services include tutoring and peer mentoring to enhance study habits and strengthen technological skills. Funding will become available Sept. 1.