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Dean's monthly updates

December 2007

Happy New Year from the Dean's office! I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday break and is looking forward to a dynamic new year at America's Arctic University.

As we begin 2008, three new members will join the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences community in three different locations. Dr. Murat O. Balaban will begin his tenure as Director of the Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC or Fish Tech as we call it) in Kodiak on January 7. The same day, Mr. Gary Freitag will join our faculty as an Associate Professor in our Marine Advisory Program in Ketchikan. Both were selected following national searches. In Fairbanks, Mr. Greg Simpson will return to SFOS as our Administrative Manager in the Dean's office. Greg worked previously in the SFOS dean's office from 1999 to 2005 serving as proposal coordinator and lead proposal coordinator. Please welcome these new members of the SFOS family when you meet them.

The great news every December is that many of our students complete their graduate degrees. In December 2007, eight graduate students (2 Ph.D. and 6 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 1, I was the discussion leader at the UAF Academic Leadership Institute organized by Provost Emeritus Paul Reichardt to provide an opportunity for a small group of faculty, staff, and/or administrators to explore the topic of leadership in an academic context. Dr. David Christie, director of the SFOS Global Undersea Research Unit (GURU) is participating in the institute this year. I led the discussion of Donald Kennedy's book "Academic Duty" which we give to every new SFOS faculty member.

SFOS Conversations was held on December 6 with faculty and staff from Fairbanks, Juneau, Anchorage, Seward, and Homer participating. We discussed the plans for a new SFOS Strategic Plan with GURU Director David Christie taking the lead role, reorganization of the SFOS proposal office, status of new faculty hiring, and the university budget. The next conversation will be on January 17 at 1:00 p.m.

I traveled to Anchorage on December 10 to meet with representatives of Princess Tours. The meeting with Bruce Bustamante, Vice President of Community and Public Affairs, and Anita Nelson, Public Affairs Specialist, took place in their Anchorage Office. We discussed the potential for Princess Tours to become involved in SFOS conservation activities and I provided them ten opportunities to consider. On December 10, Bustamante and Nelson traveled to Fairbanks to meet with SFOS Associate Dean Mike Castellini, Public Information Officer Carin Bailey Stephens and UAF Associate Vice Chancellor for Development Judyth Wier to continue the discussion.

The Marine Advisory Program hosted the Alaska Young Fishermen's Summit II in Anchorage December 11-12. The leadership building workshop was organized by MAP faculty members Sunny Rice and Torie Baker. The workshop was attended by 70 fishermen from 26 communities in Alaska and was a tremendous success in bringing together industry leaders with promising young fishermen from throughout the state. I attended the pre-meeting reception with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on Monday evening and part of the workshop on Wednesday afternoon. Several of the panel participants from industry and government are so impressed with this workshop that they have volunteered to help support the funding of the next one. Congratulations to Sunny and Torie for leading this great event.

On December 12, I participated in the University of Alaska President's Cabinet in Anchorage. This meeting brings together UA President Hamilton with his statewide vice presidents and chancellors Steve Jones (UAF), Fran Ulmer (UAA) and John Pugh (UAS). I gave a presentation on the development of the new B.A. degree in fisheries that is being supported by a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation. We are looking for additional ways for all three UA campuses to become involved in the undergraduate fisheries degrees.

Planning for the 2008 National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals in Seward moved forward at rapid pace in December. Phyllis Shoemaker is coordinating the event in Seward with assistance from Dean Stockwell in Fairbanks. Please consider volunteering to help with the Tsunami Bowl this year and the national finals as we will need a large number of volunteers for both events. We are pleased with the many sponsors who have stepped forward to help fund the national finals. On December 12, we received a $16,000 donation from the Atwood Foundation in Anchorage to cover the cost of chartering the Alaska Railroad to take the students, coaches, and volunteers from Anchorage to Seward for the finals. Information on the 2008 NOSB national finals and our sponsors can be found at

On December 18, I returned to Anchorage for a meeting of the North Pacific Research Board. I learned on December 10 that Governor Sarah Palin had appointed me to another three year term to the NPRB seat representing academia. The NPRB considered final funding for the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP). While in Anchorage, I took the opportunity to meet with Ed Rasmuson (Chairman of the Board) and Diane Kaplan (President) of the Rasmuson Foundation. We discussed restructuring some of the Rasmuson Foundation-funded activities associated with the new undergraduate fisheries degree.

During December, I made only three trips-- all to Anchorage-- for a total of 2,226 air miles. However, these trips put me at 100 total plane flights for 2007 for a total of 94,963 miles. I hope these 100 flights contributed to a successful year for SFOS with the $5 million Rasmuson Foundation grant in hand and work underway on the $123 million effort to construct the Alaska Region Research Vessel funded by the National Science Foundation. I am looking forward to an equally successful 2008. Happy New Year.