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Dean's monthly update

June 2005

During the month of May, the SFOS Executive Council spent a considerable amount of time working on the SFOS budget for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.  All unit directors are participating in the budget process and we have been holding teleconferences almost weekly to push the process forward.  We anticipate having the FY06 budget in place by mid June.  For the current fiscal year, we are still in the black, thanks to the effort everyone has made to contain costs and seek new sources of research funding. The SFOS Fiscal Office has also made significant progress in cleaning up old grant accounts.  I appreciate the cooperation of all Principal Investigators in this process.

In early May, we interviewed our first candidate for the Ted Stevens Distinguished Chair in Marine Policy, Dr. Ralph Townsend.  Dr. Townsend met with faculty and staff in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau and presented a seminar on "Non-economic benefits of rights-based management and fisheries self governance."  Several other candidates will be interviewed during the summer.  Dr. Vera Alexander is Chair of the search committee.

A meeting was held in Juneau on May 11 to discuss the collaborative building plans for NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center and the SFOS Fisheries Division at Lena Point in Juneau.  Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker, Professor Tony Gharrett and I attended with Mike Ruckhaus of UAF Design and Construction on the phone.  Our new facility in Juneau will be built on the NOAA property where they are building the $51M Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute.  We spent the morning discussing sewerage systems and arguing about the lease for our operation. Of course, most of the argument was about money.  NOAA has redesigned their building to assure our faculty and students will have access to their library and other facilities.

I am pleased to report that on May 25 the Alaska Legislature passed SB 46, the capital appropriations budget.  SB 46 includes $10,000,000 for "UAF - Ocean Sciences Facility at Lena Point."  In the next few weeks, SB 46 will go to the Governor for signature. Several of our SFOS Advisory Council members contributed to this successful legislation, especially Arliss Sturgulewski and Heather McCarty.  SFOS supporters from Seward, Anchorage, Kodiak and Juneau called legislators on our behalf.  Although the Governor does have line item veto authority, we believe the Lena Point funding will be approved as it was high on the Board of Regents list of priorities.  I have the champagne cold and ready when the Governor signs.  The $10M along with the $11M in hand will allow us to build a Fisheries facility that will meet our needs and of which we will be proud.

The national Sea Grant office asked me to participate as part of a Program Assessment Team (PAT) to review the Oregon Sea Grant College Program.  I spent the week of May 15 in Oregon with a five person team staying in five different hotels in five nights.  Oregon has an outstanding Sea Grant program.  I hope some of the things I learned in Corvallis and Newport will be of benefit to the Director Brian Allee and the Alaska Sea Grant team as they prepare for their PAT in 2006.

On May 28, FITC Director Scott Smiley and I represented SFOS at the commissioning ceremony of the NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson (R224) in Kodiak.  This 206 ft., acoustically quiet fisheries vessel will be used to monitor Alaskan pollock and other fisheries in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.  The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Sen. Ted Stevens and the host was NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher.  I was able to tell Sen. Stevens that the legislature had funded our Lena Point building to be built next to the center named for him.  The ceremony took place at the same time as Kodiak Crab Fest providing both food and entertainment.  The 45 F, rainy weather in Kodiak made me glad to be back in Fairbanks for sunny Memorial Day.

At its May 25-26, 2005 Meeting, the NSF National Science Board approved a new priority order for new start Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) projects.  The highest priority was the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) followed by the National Ecological Observatory Network, Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), and Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).  This is good news and means that the ARRV will be first in the list of new major projects that NSF submits to Congress for funding in FY07.  Arctic scientists have been waiting 30 years for this vessel.  Let's hope next year is the year.

Denis