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Dean's monthly updates

December 2006

Many of you know that Assistant Professor Gordon Haas suffered a serious head injury due to a fall at his home on December 9. Gordon had two surgeries in the days following and the second surgery was successful in saving his life. At the end of the month, I am pleased to report that Gordon is physically out of the woods. During the last week of December, Gordon is recovering slowly. He has spent more time out of bed while his parents are with him and has learned his way around some of Providence Hospital's corridors. Our prayers go out to Gordon for a speedy recovery and to his wife (Molly) and son (Abe) who are with him in Anchorage.

I had hoped to begin this report by announcing that we had finally received the $5,000,000 award document from the Rasmuson Foundation to enhance our fisheries and ocean science programs. The Rasmuson Foundation Board approved our proposal in November, but, alas, the final award document has not yet arrived at UAF. I can only hope my January report will announce finally the good news. Once the funding is received, we will begin the process of hiring several new fisheries and oceanography faculty to boost our academic offerings and expand our research capabilities.

The great news in December was that thirteen graduate students (3 Ph.D. and 10 M.S.) turned in their theses to the Graduate School. The newest SFOS graduates are

Congratulations and best wishes for extraordinarily successful futures.

On December 5, I attended a brief meeting of the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) in Anchorage. The NPRB selected two groups to submit full proposals for their Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP). Our SFOS team that includes a partnership with NOAA’s Pacific Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) was selected to submit a full proposal. IMS Director Terry Whitledge is leading the SFOS proposal team.

While in Anchorage, I attended the opening day of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting on December 6. Representatives of much of the Alaska fishing community attend these meetings and I had a chance to visit briefly with people from Kodiak, Seattle, Juneau, Petersburg, and Nome. After 2.5 years in Alaska, I felt at home at this meeting. One of the first speakers was Andy Smoker, brother of SFOS Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker. The following presentation was given by Jessie Gharrett, a NOAA employee who is also the wife of our own Professor Tony Gharrett. Most surprisingly, I was able to introduce MAP Leader Paula Cullenberg to people that I knew that she didn’t. The last two years, she has been introducing me to fisheries leaders around the state and I enjoyed being able to return the favor.

IMS Director Terry Whitledge and I attended an Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) proposal team meeting in Seattle on December 11 and 12. We were accompanied by UAF Director of Procurement Mike Grahek, Senior Contracting Officer Debbie Moore, and John Dickinson from UA System Finance Operations. During the two-day meeting at Glosten Associates, the ARRV proposal team hammered out the final issues with the $98M proposal to the National Science Foundation to construct and operate the ARRV. If everything goes well, we will have a new ice-capable ship in Alaska in March 2010. The exact date depends on what Congress does with the FY07 federal budget in January more than anything else.

I failed in my 2006 goal to not exceed the 86,978 miles I traveled on Alaska Airlines for SFOS business (95 segments) in 2005. During 2006, I traveled 88,525 miles for SFOS business (94 segments) breaking last year’s record by 1,547 miles. I doubt that things will slow down in 2007, so I am petitioning Alaska Airlines for special recognition for double MVP Gold members.

Happy New Year!

Denis