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Dean's monthly update

February 2005

This report will be the first of what I hope will be monthly messages from the Office of the Dean to the faculty, staff, and supporters of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.  One always wonders how much communication is enough to keep everyone informed.  When asked how much communication is necessary, UA President Mark Hamilton states that it is always “just a little more.”  With that premise in mind, I plan to communicate with you more often in the year ahead.

The grounding on December 8, 2004 of the Malaysian freighter Selendang Ayu on the coast of Unalaska occurred when SFOS personnel were in Dutch Harbor to undertake some filming for the National Ocean Science Bowl.  MAP agent Reid Brewer along with Dr. Susan Sugai from Alaska Sea Grant and Deborah Mercy, MAP instructional media specialist from our Anchorage office, were immediately pressed into service.  They worked with the Coast Guard to manage the response effort, with Susan providing useful input from her experience with the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Deborah chartering a helicopter to produce a video map of the oil hitting the shore.  Their responses were documented in articles in the Anchorage Daily News and the Fairbanks Daily New-Miner.  See the News section of the SFOS web site for the stories. Susan moved from SFOS in January to become the Associate Director of the Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research (CIFAR) and we wish here every success in this new position.

Dr. Ray Highsmith will also be leaving SFOS in February.  Ray came to UAF in 1983 and has been a mainstay of our undersea research.  In addition to his role as a valued faculty member, he has served as Director of the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, Director of the NOAA-NURP West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center and as Director of the SFOS Global Undersea Research Unit (GURU).  Ray will become the Director of the National Institute for Undersea Technology (NIUST) at the University of Mississippi.  A national search will be conducted to replace Ray.  In the interim, Dr. Brenda Konar is handling operations for the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory and Dr. Jennifer Reynolds will serve as Interim Director of the West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center.

The search for the Ted Stevens Chair in Marine Policy is underway and the search committee is now evaluating applications.  This endowed faculty chair is sponsored by the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center, an SFOS center funded by contributions from a fishing cooperative of companies that operate catcher/processors in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock fishery.  The companies include: Alaska Ocean Seafood, LP, American Seafoods Company, LLC, Arctic Storm, Inc., Glacier Fish Company, LLC, Highland Light Seafoods, LLC, Starbound, LLC, and Trident Seafoods Corporation.  We hope to have this position filled by the fall semester.

SFOS Unit Directors and I gathered in Anchorage January 17 and 18 for a retreat held at the new MAP offices on Third Avenue.  The retreat provided an opportunity for us to share ideas about how to better manage SFOS operations and to discuss new opportunities for our teaching, research and service programs.  Topics discussed ranged from revitalizing the undergraduate program in Fisheries to how to pick the SFOS faculty of the future.  I hope the retreat has provided a foundation for us to work together better.

The SFOS Advisory Council will meet in Fairbanks on March 12-13, 2005 (yes these are a Saturday and Sunday).  Some of the topics discussed at the Directors’ retreat will be on the agenda for that meeting in IARC.  I encourage you to attend if you can.

I traveled to Juneau on January 13-14 to discuss the planned construction of new Fisheries Division at Lena Point with our faculty and with the University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor, John Pugh.  I will be off to Juneau again February 16-18 when the UA Board of Regents meets.  We will again meet concerning the Lena Point facility and Chancellor Steve Jones will hold a reception for supporters of the SFOS Fisheries Division on the evening of February 17.

February 9 and 10, I travel to Seattle for the meeting of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.  While there, Chancellor Jones and I will meet with the Dean of the University of Washington College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences and tour their new Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences Building.  Chancellor Jones will also host a reception for the members of the Pollock Conservation Cooperative on the evening of February 9.

With the National Ocean Science Bowl in Seward February 18-20 and the other activities planned by our faculty, February is going to be a busy month, and hopefully warmer.  I already notice and enjoy the additional 6 minutes of daylight each day.

Denis