University of Alaska president search underway

The University of Alaska system is seeking a new president, following current president Pat Gamble’s resignation announcement Dec. 15. The University of Alaska Ex-Officio Presidential Search Advisory Committee met for the first time last month and will meet again in a series of closed meetings to make applicant recommendations to the Board of Regents, which will ultimately determine the new president.

The search to replace Gamble will occur within a short time frame compared to previous presidential searches.

We have to compress and do a really focused search — in six months’ timeframe,” said Board of Regents Chair Jyotsna “Jo” Heckman.

Academic Search Inc, which has been involved in UA president, provost, and dean searches, will field applicants for the position from around the nation.

Academic Search Inc, has been utilized by the Board of Regents when we selected President Gamble. … Many of us have worked with them before,” said Regent Mary K. Hughes, who served on the Board of Regents during the last presidential search and is the chair of the advisory committee.

Hughes said the limited time frame prevent the University of Alaska from considering other search firms, but Academic Search’s past and current involvement in UA searches, in addition to recommendations from the Alaska Anchorage campus, was a determining factor in the decision to contract with the firm. Academic Search vice president Tom Fitch met with the presidential advisory committee Feb. 20 to acquaint himself with the group and explain the search process.

The advisory committee — comprised of board members, three community members, UA Foundation leaders, as well as student, faculty and staff representatives — will review all of candidates after the March 31 application deadline and make recommendations to the Board of Regents.

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The board — they’re the one’s who will decide who the next president is going to be,” said Carla Beam, vice president of university relations.

While a specific deadline has not yet been established, the Board of Regents will look at the narrowed-down list of recommended candidates and decide on a president before the position’s start date, June 1. However, there is potential for community input along the way.

We’d like to engage as many constituencies as possible during this search process, because people have a vested interest in who their new leader is going to be,” Heckman said.

Beam said the advisory committee is intended to reflect the entire UA system. However, the applicant names will be kept confidential to ensure their applications don’t jeopardize their current employment. Once the advisory committee narrows down the candidates, Heckman said campus visits might be a possibility, but this would depend on future decisions regarding publicizing applicant names and time allowances.

Regardless, community members can call the Board of Regents and advisory committee members to speak about their priorities as the search moves forward. To contact committee members and read the presidential search profile, visit