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Dean's monthly updates

October 2006

The last day of October proved to be the most exciting as the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued the long-awaited "Program Solicitation for Construction of an Alaska Region Research Vessel and Operator Selection" on October 31. The oceanographic community has been working for over 30 years to obtain an ice-capable research vessel and we are closer than ever.  Led by IMS Director Terry Whitledge, a team from UAF, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Glosten Associates in Seattle has been preparing a proposal for the ARRV for the last 18 months.  Our $98M proposal is about 85% complete and we will be busy refining the proposal over the next two months.  Proposals are due at NSF on January 29, 2007.

I started out the month of October in Juneau where I attended the annual Marine Advisory Program (MAP) retreat.  The meeting of all our MAP faculty from around the state gave me an opportunity to learn more about their projects and to provide updates on SFOS activities, especially our planned B.A. degree in Fisheries and the faculty that will be hired to help deliver the new program.  SFOS Recruiting and Retention Coordinator, Katie Murra, gave a presentation on how MAP faculty can help with student recruiting.  SFOS Fiscal Manager Jennifer Harris, Proposal Coordinator Gretchen Hundertmark and Grants Technician Debbie Carlson were also in Juneau to meet MAP faculty and work with our Fisheries Division faculty and staff.  As always, the highlight of the MAP retreat was the evening feast with its extraordinary food prepared by Chuck Crapo, Quentin Fong, et al.

From Juneau, I flew to Washington, DC to attend the UNOLS Council Meeting on October 6.  Former White Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, Chair of the Pew Oceans Commission, was the keynote speaker.  At the meeting, UAF announced the retirement of the R/V Alpha Helix after 40 years of service to the oceanographic community.  I presented the "Ancient Albatross Award"for the oldest ship in the UNOLS fleet to Bob Knox from Scripps Institution of Oceanography for the R/V Melville.  The award included a framed certificate and a can of Rust-Oleum paint.

The day before the UNOLS meeting, UA Federal Affairs Representative Martha Stewart and I visited some federal agencies and traveled to Capital Hill to provide information on our SFOS programs to staff member of the Alaska delegation.  We visited with

Arne Fuglvog and Mark Robbins represent our senators on fisheries issues.  Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker and I also met with Arne in Petersburg, Alaska, just before he moved to DC.

On October 9, the City of Seward was in a state of emergency as heavy rains caused the Resurrection River to overflow its banks.  The Lowell Creek tunnel was "spewing boulders" according to Seward Marine Center Manager Nici Murawsky.  With the Lowell Point Bridge covered with rock and debris, water from the diversion flowed down Railroad Avenue into the Seward Marine Center (SMC).  The adjacent aquaculture facility was filled with water and gravel.  Fortunately, our facilities suffered only minor damage thanks to the efforts of our SMC staff who moved equipment to higher ground and managed to contain the damage.  I was impressed with the positive attitude of everyone involved.  Thanks for your great work.

MAP Leader Paula Cullenberg and I had an opportunity to address the United Fishermen of Alaska at their annual meeting in Anchorage on October 11.  Our presentations followed Gov. Frank Murkowski's address.  Paula described MAP activities and asked for their support for the Alaska Young Fishermen's Summit that MAP is hosting in January.  I reported on our plans for enhance our undergraduate degree program in fisheries and asked for their ideas on how we can better serve the Alaska fishing industry.  They seemed especially interested in the plans for the Alaska Region Research Vessel.

I was back in Anchorage on Friday, October 13, to attend the Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC) Policy Council meeting and to meet with Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP) Executive Director Herb Schroeder.  On Monday, October 16, Associate Dean Mike Castellini and I went to Kodiak to meet with FITC faculty and staff.  Several changes will occur at FITC over the next few months as FITC Director Scott Smiley has announced he is stepping down as FITC Director and Administrative Assistant Cathy Magnuson is retiring in December.  Mike and I spent time at FITC planning for a smooth transition.

The week of October 23, I was back in Washington, DC for board meetings of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) and the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI).  The main topic for both meetings was a planned merger of CORE and JOI.  While in DC, I met with Dr. David Policanksy, Chair of the SFOS Advisory Council to discuss recent SFOS activities and to begin the planning for the 2007 SFOS Advisory Council meeting that may be held in Anchorage.

October 27 found me back in Anchorage for a meeting of the Alaska SeaLife Center Board of Directors.  UA President Mark Hamilton also attended.  After the meeting, I had an opportunity to meet with Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan and Program Assistant Ricardo Lopez (a UAF alum) to answer some additional questions about the $5M proposal that we have submitted to the Rasmuson Foundation.  Our proposal will be considered by the Rasmuson Foundation Board during their meeting the week after Thanksgiving.  I hope the outcome of that meeting will be the highlight of my November report.

Denis