UA Statewide Briefs

Longtime UAF museum director retires

FAIRBANKS – After 15 years as director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Aldona Jonaitis plans to retire in November. Jonaitis’ tenure at the museum has been marked by dramatic growth, both in facilities and in programs.

“I knew in 1993 that the University of Alaska Museum of the North was one of the finest museums of its kind,” said Jonaitis. “Things have only gotten better. Now that the expansion is complete and fully operational, I think it’s time for someone else to lead the museum in the next chapter of its history.”

When she was hired, Jonaitis was given the directive “expand the museum.” From the capital campaign for the $48 million expansion to programming for the new wing, the expansion was her major focus.

Under Jonaitis’ leadership, the museum’s education programs have expanded and exhibition space has doubled. New facilities, like a lab to study ancient DNA, state-of-the-art research labs and expanded collections storage, have significantly expanded the museum’s research capabilities.

“I see hiring Aldona as the museum director as one of the best things I did at UAF,” said former UAF provost Paul Reichardt, who served as acting director of the museum in the early 1990s.

Jonaitis plans to remain in Fairbanks when she retires, starting up a dessert catering business and working as a museum consultant. A national search for her replacement is underway.

UAF chancellor plans to pursue new opportunities

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FAIRBANKS – Citing his desire to be closer to family, UAF Chancellor Steve Jones announced his plans on March 24 to pursue other higher education career opportunities outside of UAF.

“UAF has been our life, quite literally, for Judy and me for four years now,” said Jones, who has served as UAF chancellor since 2004. “With the arrival of two grandchildren last fall, we have found ourselves in a position where we want to be within easier reach of them. This university has been our calling, but now we feel some competition.”

Jones said he is making the announcement now so that UA President Mark Hamilton can begin the process of talking to the university and Fairbanks communities about selecting an interim chancellor. While there is no firm departure date set, Jones expects to begin leadership duties elsewhere before the start of the fall semester.

“In the meantime, my passion will remain directed to UAF,” he said.