UA Statewide Briefs

Advisory committee to help UA president plan streamlined future

UA President Mark Hamilton is calling on a campus-led advisory committee to help with streamlining and improving service at UA’s System Office.

The system office, which provides administrative and leadership support for the 16-campus UA system, was recently reviewed by external consultants Terry MacTaggart, who has extensive higher-education experience at numerous university systems in the lower 48 states; and Brian Rogers of Fairbanks, former chair of the Board of Regents and a previous UA vice president.

The 41-page report provides numerous recommendations for streamlining operations. It also lists suggestions for improved communication and collaboration between the system and campuses. In addition, the consultants recommended transferring some programs from the system to an individual campus.

The 11-member advisory committee oversaw the initial consultants’ work for the report, released in February. Now, however, the committee must evaluate the report’s findings and provide advice on moving forward. The advisory committee will be expanded to include the provost from each campus. It will be chaired by Carol Griffin, vice chancellor for administration at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. Hamilton expects the advisory board’s recommendations will be available by the June 18-19 meeting in Anchorage.

“It’s important to get external and unbiased reviews of all aspects of the university, including the statewide administration,” Hamilton said. “Taking a hard look at the administration’s operations and relationships with the campuses is important if we want to continue to improve. Looking at the statewide administrative office is the first step, followed by analysis and review of campus administrative structures – that just makes sense.”

UAS hosts sustainability Spring Forum

JUNEAU – The University of Alaska Southeast Spring Forum was held on Friday, April 4. This year’s theme is “Sustainability and Juneau Energy,” in conjunction with the International Polar Year.

For the past few years, the UAS Spring Forum has provided an opportunity for the Juneau and campus communities to come together to learn about important issues, engage interesting questions and challenge assumptions.

- Advertisement -

This year’s forum included a variety of panelists and roundtable discussions. Topics included “Local and global perspectives on sustainability,” “Peak oil,” “Hydroelectric power vs. fossil fuel burning,” “Prospects for renewable energy in Southeast Alaska,” “Impacts of climate change on runoff and hydro-electric potential in Juneau,” “Biodiesel production,” and “University of Alaska Southeast efforts toward becoming sustainable.”

– Juneau Empire

Russian-American research team examines origins of whaling culture

University of Alaska Museum of the North archaeology curator Daniel Odess presented the team’s findings at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, last week.

“The importance of whaling in arctic prehistory is clear. Prehistoric settlements were situated and defended so that people could hunt whales,” says Odess. “Yet, as important as whaling is, we know very little about how, where and when it began.”

The research focuses on the Un’en’en site near the modern whaling village of Nunligran, Russia, on the Chukotka Peninsula. Researchers believe the site, discovered in 2005, was representative of the Old Whaling culture. The only other previously known Old Whaling culture site is on Cape Krusenstern, north of Kotzebue.

Odess spent three weeks at the site last summer along with colleagues from Richard Stockton College (New Jersey), the University of Alaska Southeast, the Kunstkamera Museum in St. Petersburg and the Institute for Heritage in Moscow. The team also included several Chukotka residents; UAF graduate student Sarah Meitl; and Tim Williams, a Yupik high school student from Fairbanks and volunteer in Odess’ research lab.

“Before we arrived in Russia, I asked Tim what we might find that would tell us for certain whether people were whaling,” Odess said. “As though it were the most obvious thing in the world, he said we should look for a picture.”

They found that picture on one of the last days of the excavation: an ivory carving, approximately 50 cm long, with detailed carvings of animals and humans, including scenes of men in umiaks harpooning whales. The carving was found within or beneath the wooden roof of the structure the team excavated. Radiocarbon dating of wood samples in direct contact with the ivory carving confirmed its age as 3,000 years old.

“The images on the carving combined with all the other evidence – a site ideally situated for hunting whales and walruses, the remains of those animals in the site, and the appropriate tools for hunting and butchering – all suggest that 3,000 years ago, people on the southern coast of the Chukotka Peninsula were hunting whales and walruses in much the same way that Eskimos were at the time of contact,” Odess said. “It’s about as close to a smoking gun as you get in archaeology.”

The 2007 fieldwork was the first joint Russian-American archeological project in Chukotka and was supported by funding from the National Park Service and the National Science Foundation. Researchers continue to examine the artifacts, which are housed at the Institute for Heritage in Moscow.