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Dean's monthly updates

June 2008

Happy New Year. July 1 marks the beginning of fiscal year 2009 (FY09) for UAF and it also represents the beginning of my fifth year as Dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. I arrived in Fairbanks on July 1, 2004 after driving 5,300 miles from Mississippi. We have seen many changes in SFOS and UAF in the last four years and I hope you will agree that most of the changes have been positive. Today is also the first official day in office for Interim Chancellor Brian Rogers. Check out his greeting on the web at

Summer arrived in Fairbanks in June with warm days and cool evenings and visitors from around the world. Peter Winsor from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution made a return visit with his family June 1-4 and enjoyed delightful weather. Peter will join our faculty as an Associate Professor of Marine Science (physical oceanography) in August. Nicholas Kamenos from Glasgow, Scotland, also made a return visit the week of June 16 to see what Fairbanks looks like without snow on the ground. On June 7, I met with a group from planning Canada's High Arctic Research Station including Danielle Labonte and Eddy Carmack. Eddy is also the current Sydney Chapman Chair in Physical Sciences at UAF. The group is developing a plan to establish a new research station on the Arctic Ocean.

On June 3, I flew to Anchorage for the day for a meeting at the Rasmuson Foundation with Ed Rasmuson, Chairman of the Board, and Diane Kaplan, President. We discussed the new B.A. degree in Fisheries with a focus on how to recruit students to the program. Based on those discussions, we will hold a Rasmuson Recruiting Roundtable in Anchorage on July 15 to explore student recruiting ideas.

SFOS Development Officer Teresa Thompson and I attended a Center for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) online seminar on Organizing Stewardship on June 5. The seminar focused on how to improve relationship building, message delivery, and building trust with your supporters. We have set an ambitions fundraising goal this fiscal year and this was one step in learning how to conduct our development effort more effectively.

UAF Interim Chancellor Brian Rogers has appointed several transition teams to help him focus on UAF needs over the next two years. I was appointed to the Philanthropy Transition Team which has a goal of providing advice on UAF development activities. We held our first meeting on June 12. UAF Associate Vice Chancellor for Development Judyth Wier participated in the meeting and noted that we have a lot of potential for fundraising over the next two years. Sharice Walker, Technical Editor for the SFOS Coastal Marine Institute, was also appointed to the Student Transition Team. Information about the teams and minutes of their meetings can be found on the web at

June 15 was a sad day as Jennifer Harris left as the SFOS Financial Manager to become the Executive Officer of the UAF Tanana Valley Campus. Jennifer provided great leadership as our financial manager and managed to submit our FY09 budget just before she departed. SFOS had a balanced budget every year while Jennifer was here. I am pleased to announce that our new Financial Manager will be Angela Gies. Angela worked for SFOS as a Grant Coordinator from 2004-2006 before becoming the Fiscal Officer of the UAF School of Education. I am delighted that Angela will be rejoining the SFOS family on July 7.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents (BOR) approved our new Bachelor of Arts in Fisheries and our Minor in Fisheries at their meeting in Anchorage June 18-19. Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker represented us at the meeting. On June 18, the BOR Academic and Student Affairs Committee voted yes unanimously to recommend approval by full board and had only a few questions for Bill. The final approval was received on June 19 and SFOS Public Information Officer Carin Stephens immediately issued a press release with the announcement and it was carried on the Associated Press wire, even showing up in the Fort Mill Times in South Carolina. Approval of this new degree culminates two years of hard work by the SFOS fisheries faculty, especially Undergraduate Fisheries Coordinator Trent Sutton. Trent prepared the detailed curriculum and successfully shepherded it through the UAF review process. Congratulations to all who gave so much time to develop this new program. The June issue of Alaska Magazine had a half-page report on the new degree, University Offers B.A in Fisheries (page 12). Alaska magazine has a circulation of over 200,000.

The Copper River Nouveau in Cordova is held each June as a fundraiser for the Prince William Sound Science Center. After receiving my fifth invitation, I finally found time to attend June 19-21 this year. Sen. Lisa Murkowski hosted the event at the Orca Adventure Lodge and she was part of the evening entertainment. Either Sen. Murkowski has a special talent, or tap dancing is a necessary skill for a U.S. Senator. While in Cordova, I took the opportunity to go by Cordova High School and the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation (PWSAC). PWSAC provides office space to Torie Baker, our Marine Advisory Program agent in Cordova, and I went by to thank them for their support.

In addition to the faculty searches we have just completed, we made the decision this month to begin the process to fill our Marine Advisory Program faculty position in Dillingham. President Hamilton visited Dillingham in April and assured the community that the position would be filled and we were reminded of this by a well-known Dillingham resident on June 5. The search committee for the position includes both local residents and university faculty members with Cordova MAP faculty member Torie Baker chairing the committee.

John Farrell, Executive Director of the US Arctic Research Commission visited with me on June 26. The commission is holding its summer meeting in Fairbanks this week. John and I discussed how the commission could help in securing the final funds for the Alaska Region Research Vessel. UAF is represented on the commission by Susan Sugai, a former SFOSer and now Associate Director, Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research (CIFAR). Former Institute of Marine Science faculty member Tom Royer is also a member of the commission.

The 26th edition of the Fairbanks Midnight Sun Run was held on Saturday evening June 21 with over 3,000 participants. In addition to serious runners, the evening run features "wild and wacky costumes." It was reported that both George Bush and Al Gore were there. SFOS was well represented in the wild and wacky department as we had an entire kelp forest in the race to include Katie Murra, Steve Jewett, Heloise Chenelot, Nathan Stewart and Teril Efird, an incoming graduate student. You can contact Public Information Officer Carin Stephens for incriminating pictures.

Best wishes to all faculty, staff, and students for a productive new year.