Former provost’s legacy still lives on today

The first provost of UAA, Dr. Lewis Haines, will be remembered for being more than just a leader of UAA.

The Professional Studies Building, Wells Fargo Sports Complex and the Student Union are some of his legacy. So are the original six NCAA sponsored sports – men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, swimming, skiing and cross country running. And the Thanksgiving tradition so many know as the Great Alaska Shootout.

Oh, and the establishment of a true, accredited University of Alaska university in Anchorage.

But for the people who knew and loved him, it wasn’t about bureaucracy, it was about making a difference and inspiring people in ways they couldn’t imagine.

Jack Peterson, former professor of Sociology at UAA who shared an over 50-year friendship with Haines, was one those inspired.

They met in the fall of 1950 at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. Peterson was finishing up his bachelors and Haines was working in the Dean of Students office as one of the activity directors finishing his doctorate. They struck up a friendship, over games of golf, where Haines first encouraged the then unsure Peterson to pursue a graduate degree.

“He told me that if I wanted to do something, I needed to get a graduate degree,” Peterson said.

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Peterson took his advice, and got his grad degree. But that wasn’t the only time Haines pointed him the right direction. He put in a good word for him at Northern Illinois University, giving him one of his first teaching jobs. That was 1959. Almost 10 years later Haines would ask Peterson to start the sociology program at the Anchorage Senior College. He accepted, moved to Anchorage, and stayed for 25 years.

Haines was appointed provost of what was then called the South central Region of the University of Alaska in 1969. He was basically the “chief executive for all South central based operations” according to History Professor of Emeritus Will Jacobs, who was hired in the senior college under Haines tenure in 1973.

Then there was only one accredited university in the University of Alaska Fairbanks. However, South central was growing. Jacobs described the South central region as a two-tiered umbrella. Under the first tier were the colleges outside of Anchorage that then included the Mat-Su, Kenai and Kodiak campuses.

Under the second umbrella tier was what was known as UA “comma” A. Jacobs said that the institution of UAA is the title given to the restructured and merged institutions in 1987. Before that, UA,A consisted of the Anchorage Community College and the Anchorage Senior College.

The Senior College, which Haines helped estabish, allowed for the creation of university like functions, including the establishment of collegiate level athletics.

Before the Senior College was established, graduate courses had been taught locally, but only as extension of UAF. With the creation of the Senior Colleges upper division departments were created and taught more independently. They were the seeds of what would eventually develop into the current UAA – no comma – and the beginnings of an individually accredited university.

He stepped down as provost in 1978, but chose to remain on as faculty in the college of education, a surreal experience for friend and former dean of the college of education Don McDermott. McDermott had gone from Haines’ subordinate to boss.

McDermott said that Haines was a voracious reader, who always had a book with him. Usually it was related to course work.

“[He was] a wonderfully curious man, he wanted to know everything,” McDermott said. He never acted like he knew everything, or that he even knew a lot. He was kind of quietly very scholarly.”

He was also athletic director for a time shortly after stepping down as provost. In that time helped to establish the six original NCAA sports and the Great Alaska Shootout.

But he was also quite the athlete himself. McDermott said he had “boundless energy” and was an avid golfer, tennis player and runner, among other sports.

He encouraged friend Peterson to get into running and convinced him to do several marathons and even Mt. Marathon.

“In spite of my best interests,” Peterson said.

Haines, who was fiercely competitive according to friends, is also the father of Olympic skiers Chris and Betsy Haines and grandfather to Kikkan Randall.

After leaving the University he mostly stayed out of any seriously involvement with the institution McDermott said. Instead, he focused on his family. A father of seven and grandfather of 21, McDermott said he could be seen on the sidelines of their various sports, rooting for them.

Last year, Chancellor Fran Ulmer established a naming committee. They ended up naming a conference room on the third floor of the Consortium Library after him.

It was something that should have been done long ago according to McDermott.

“I don’t know where it [UAA] would be if he wasn’t here, but I know where it is today because of him,” McDermott said.