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Dean's monthly updates

October 2007

Two new faculty members accepted positions with SFOS during the month of October.  Dr. Murat O. Balaban will join our Fishery Industrial Technology Center in Kodiak on January 7, 2008, as Director and Professor of Seafood Science.  Dr. Balaban comes to SFOS from the University of Florida where he is a Professor of Food Processing and Engineering.  Dr. Balaban has had a distinguished career and was selected after a national search.  We will also have a new Marine Advisory Program (MAP) faculty member in Ketchikan starting in January.  Gary Freitag accepted our offer to become an Associate Professor.  He is currently the Research and Evaluation Manager/Planning Director for the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA).  Gary is also the President of the Board of Oceans Alaska (formerly Tongass Coast Aquarium, Inc.).

An important arrival for me this month was Edward Elliott, who started as Assistant to the Dean on October 5.  Edward is a 2003 UAF graduate (political science) who was working most recently at Northern Schools Federal Credit Union.  His first full week of work was interrupted when his wife Jessica gave birth to their first child, Alexander.  I am sure that Alexander’s arrival was more important to Edward than his arrival at SFOS.

Another important event in October was the SFOS Faculty Meeting on Saturday October 20.  The meeting was held by teleconference and PictureTalk to avoid the travel costs of a face-to-face meeting.  The meeting was webcast from Fairbanks by the UAF Office of Information Technology so that faculty throughout the state could see the meeting presenters.  Plans for the new B.A. in Fisheries were presented by Amanda Rosenberger and Trent Sutton.  A good portion of time during the meeting was spent discussing faculty recruiting, hiring and mentoring.  Katrin Iken, Rolf Gradinger and Bill Smoker also discussed several academic issues and I gave a presentation on “What is a master’s thesis.”

Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker and I started October in San Francisco where we traveled with Diane Kaplan, President of the Rasmuson Foundation to meet with Dr. Michael Webster of the Moore Foundation. Diane Kaplan requested this meeting to discuss the potential for the Moore Foundation to partner with the Rasmuson Foundation to help support the fisheries education initiative of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. We had a good discussion with Mr. Webster and invited him to Alaska to learn more about our progress and plans.

October 9-12, I represented UAF at the annual meeting of the University-National Ocean Laboratory System (UNOLS).  UNOLS is the advisory body to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for academic ship operations. NSF Director Arden Bement was the keynote speaker.  Institute of Marine Science Director Terry Whitledge gave a presentation on the plans for the management of the construction and operation of the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV). During the meeting, we had a change to visit with ARRV Program Manager Dolly Dieter about the status of the work.

A meeting of the Rasmuson Fisheries Excellence Committee was held on October 15 by teleconference to review the final changes to the Fisheries undergraduate programs.  The committee did a final review of the new B.A. in Fisheries and the Minor in Fisheries.  All the committee members were pleased with the final document that Undergraduate Fisheries Coordinator Trent Sutton and the Fisheries faculty had prepared.  I know that all involved were happy to reach this stage in our effort to reinvigorate our undergraduate fisheries program.  I received the following e-mail on October 16, “The BA, BS and minor in Fisheries paperwork is on its way to Faculty Senate!!!!!  Whoo hoo!!”

Alaska Sea Grant hosted an Energy and Fisheries Steering Committee in Anchorage on October 19.  I made a one day trip to the meeting to help plan the workshop to be held next March.  If the plans are successful, UAF and Bodø University of Norway will host a collaborative effort to continue dialogue among key local, regional, and global stakeholders to improve communications, share common interests and concerns, and fill data gaps on issues surrounding the potential for offshore coexistence between the fishing and oil and gas industries.  Sea Grant Director Brian Allee chaired the meeting with assistance from Sue Keller, Sherri Pristash and Doug Schneider.

On October 26, I was back in Anchorage to attend the Alaska Sea Life Center Board of Directors meeting.  The board recognized Dr. Shannon Atkinson for her dedicated leadership of the research program at the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) during her tenure as Science Director.  Shannon returned to the faculty in August and the ASLC has hired Dr. Robert Spies as their Interim Science Director.

While in Anchorage on October 26, I visited with Bruce Bustamante, Vice President of Community and Public Affairs with Princess Tours.  Mr. Bustamante had contacted me on October 17 about the potential for Princess Tours to become involved in some SFOS activities.  We are putting some ideas together for him and he will visit us in Fairbanks on December 12.

As you will see in my last paragraph, finding additional resources for SFOS will become more important in our future.  So, I spent the morning of October 31 attending a Planned Giving Primer for Deans, Directors, and University Staff sponsored by the University of Alaska Foundation.  Many different types of planned giving were discussed and I learned some concepts that will be useful as we expand our fundraising activities.   We hope to complete the search for the SFOS Development Officer during November.

Budget stability continues to be a primary concern for our school.  The SFOS unit leaders and I are reviewing our budgets to determine potential cost savings this year.  The UAF budget is under pressure for two reasons.  First, the Alaska legislature did not provide sufficient funding in the current fiscal year to meet even our recurring costs.  Second, the overhead rate on research grants has been renegotiated to a lower rate than last year.  The lower overhead rate will cost the university over $2.0 million this year.  In turn, the SFOS indirect cost recovery that makes up 20% of our budget is down by over $130,000 compared to this time last year.  We may receive a budget cut soon and, because of these budget concerns, only one trip in September and one in October was paid from the SFOS Fund 1 budget.  It is good to be home for a while.