UA President Mark Hamilton announced March 1 that Fran Ulmer, director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research, will serve as interim chancellor following the resignation of Chancellor Elaine Maimon, who is leaving in June to become the president of Governors State University in Illinois.
Hamilton told The Northern Light last week that he intended to find an interim chancellor who could conceivably become the permanent replacement once a search is conducted, but he said the interim position could last for nearly two years.
“After consulting with UAA faculty, staff, administrators and members of the chancellor’s public advisory committee, I’m very pleased to make this interim appointment,” Hamilton said in a press release. “Fran Ulmer has an exemplary career in public service at all levels in Alaska, and has represented Alaska’s interests nationally and internationally.”
In addition to her work at ISER, Ulmer has served as the mayor of Juneau, a state legislator and lieutenant governor.
“I will look for opportunities for UAA to strengthen education at all levels because of its importance to the economy and communities of Alaska,” she said in the release.
But UAA faculty members expressed concerns about Ulmer’s qualifications, as well as her political past, at a community forum on the transition, which took place March 1 in the Student Union Den. However, Scott Goldsmith, the former director of ISER who now works with Ulmer, said that when she stepped into the academic world she left her political career at the door.
“That was a concern when we brought her to ISER and I can say two things about it. One was that she vowed that her political career was over and that she was shifting the course of her professional life to academia and she certainly has been true to that,” Goldsmith said. “She is a consummate politician and that is going to be great for this campus.”
While Goldsmith said Ulmer has a very good working relationship with Hamilton, Ulmer did not seek out the interim chancellor position and is taking it with some reluctance because she is very happy as ISER.
As for what will happen at ISER, Goldsmith said he thinks that it will have an interim director until it is known for sure if Ulmer is coming back or continuing on as chancellor at UAA.
“She is a strong individual and has her own ideas about how things should be,” Goldsmith said. “So I think she will be strong for UAA and fight for UAA.”