School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences About us Contact staff

Dean's monthly updates

May 2008

As the spring semester came to an end in May, most of the searches for new faculty concluded although two negotiations are still underway. Many thanks to all SFOS faculty, staff, and students who contributed both time and energy to make our searches successful. One candidate will make a second visit to Fairbanks in June and another in July. New faculty who have accepted offers and will start in the fall are

On May 1, Marine Advisory Program Leader Paula Cullenberg and I met in Anchorage with Margaret Williams and Alfred (Bubba) Cook from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The WWF had expressed some concerns about the energy-fisheries meeting that Alaska Sea Grant hosted in March and we spent some time discussing their concerns. They reported that the WWF highly values the work of Alaska Sea Grant and the contributions that Brian Allee made to the program.

My first out of state trip of the year took me to Washington, DC, May 5-9 to meet with program managers, Congressional staffers, and to attend the Ocean Leadership members meeting where I am the UAF member representative. University of Alaska Director of Federal Relations Martha Stewart and I met on May 6 in Senator Lisa Murkowski's office with Arne Fuglvog, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Murkowski, John Rayfield, Minority Staff Director, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Jeremy Price, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Don Young. We discussed the status of the UAF effort to construct the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) and the potential for the National Science Foundation receiving the level of funding in the FY10 federal budget necessary to go out for construction bids. We also discussed the plans for obtaining a dock in Seward for the ARRV.

I spent the morning of May 7 in Silver Spring, Maryland, meeting with NOAA program managers. In the morning I met with National Sea Grant Director Leon Cammen, Deputy Director Jim Murray and Associate Director Nicola Garber. We discussed the plans for revamping the national Sea Grant program and how the Alaska Sea Grant strategic plan must fit with the national plan. I also described to them our plans for searching for a new Alaska Sea Grant Director to replace Brian Allee who retired on May 30. We also had a discussion about the appropriate role of Sea Grant advisory agents in providing information to the public.

Later in the morning, I had a brief meeting with Karen Kohanowich, Acting Director of the NOAA's National Undersea Research Program (NURP) where we discussed future funding of NURP and the anticipated outcome of the merger of NURP and Ocean Exploration within NOAA. Afterward, I met with Dr. Gary Matlock, Director of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences (NCCOS) to discuss the operation of our Kasitsna Bay Laboratory.

After the meetings in Silver Spring, Martha Stewart and I returned to Capitol Hill on the afternoon of May 7 to meet with Mark Robbins, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Ted Stevens and Mimi Braniff, Republican Deputy Chief Counsel, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. We discussed the plans for the Final Design Review (FDR) for the ARRV to be conducted by the National Science Foundation in October 2008. We also discussed the difficulty in finding funds to construct a suitable dock for the ARRV in Seward.

On May 8, I represented UAF at the Ocean Leadership members meeting in Washington, DC. Ocean Leadership is a non-profit organization of 95 universities and private ocean research institutions with the goal of advancing education and research in the ocean sciences. The members discussed the federal budget for ocean science and future directions of the organization. Martha Stewart and I attended the Ocean Leadership reception on Capitol Hill that evening in the Rayburn House Office Building to provide information on our programs to Congressional staffers who attended.

UAF Commencement was held at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks on May 11. Four undergraduates received Fisheries degrees: Christine Gleason, Jessica Johnson, Jonathan Richar and Carl Alexander Roberts. Seven students received M.S. degrees and Olav Ormseth received his Ph.D. in Oceanography. In the 2007-2008 academic year, SFOS graduates included 6 B.S. students, 22 M.S. students and 5 Ph.D. students. Congratulations to our graduates as they move forward in their careers.

May 12-19 I actually took a vacation to visit my family in Mississippi. On the way from the New Orleans airport Jean and I had what may have been the best shrimp po'boy sandwiches of our lives at Jocko's in Slidell, Louisiana. Not wanting to stay away from work for too long, I visited the University of Southern Mississippi Department of Marine Science at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on May 16. The po'boys in the government-run cafeteria were not quite the same as at Jocko's.

SFOS Financial Manager Jennifer Harris announced on May 20 that she was leaving SFOS in June to become the Executive Officer of the UAF Tanana Valley Campus in Fairbanks. Jennifer has done an outstanding job over the last four and a half years in restructuring the SFOS fiscal office and seeing us through the repayment of the debt that burdened us before her arrival. In Jennifer's new position, she will have responsibility for about 3,200 students which will be a change from the under 200 in SFOS. We all owe Jennifer heartfelt thanks for her dedication in putting SFOS on a sound financial footing and I wish her well as she moves upward at UAF. I anticipate she will be our Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services one day.

On May 23, Governor Sarah Palin signed the state operating budget (HB 310). The University of Alaska budget included the $1,000,000 matching funds for 'fisheries.' On May 28, the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences received its operating budget from the university showing that the matching funds had been added to the base budget of the school as "Fisheries Undergrad Prog" $1,000,000 (UAF budget page 144 of 268). These continuing funds will meet the required match for FY09 and the following years of the grant. This was obviously great news.

Our new distance learning classroom, room 201 in the O'Neill building in Fairbanks, was renamed the Vera Alexander Learning Center during a dedication ceremony held on Wednesday, May 28. The UA Board of Regents approved the naming to honor Vera Alexander, the first woman to receive a Ph.D. at the University of Alaska and our dean for the first 17 years of SFOS. Chancellor Steve Jones hosted the dedication and Vera's son from Anchorage and daughter from Seattle joined us for the dedication that was a surprise to Vera who described the dedication as "magical." I was personally pleased that we were able to honor Vera for her dedicated service to SFOS, UAF and the international scientific community.

Alaska Sea Grant Director Brian Allee retired on May 30. During his five years with SFOS, Brian did an outstanding job in shepherding Alaska Sea Grant to among the best in the nation. He established an outstanding Advisory Committee and used their advice to craft new and better programs for Alaska. The last NOAA Program Assessment Team (PAT) review gave Alaska Sea Grant almost perfect scores and announced that the communications staff was the best nationally. While many contributed to this effort, the strong leadership that Brian provided was exemplary and we will miss his guidance and cheerfulness. I wish him well in retirement and know that Angela will be pleased to have him home in Oregon.

Several staff members from the dean's office spent the last weekend of May walking or running for good causes. SFOS Proposal Coordinator Tara Borland and her son, Bobby, participated in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life described as a fun-filled overnight experience designed to bring together those who have been touched by cancer. In the 24-hour event, they raised over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society. Further south in San Diego, Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Murra ran the 11th annual Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego along with 21,000 of her close friends. This race is a fund raising event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and features a live band every mile along the route. Katie finished in 4:10:01 as number 3480 of 16373 finishers and was the number 1014 woman of 8425 finishers. It is great to work with people who have such dedication and endurance.