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Dean's monthly updates

October 2008

One of the most significant events in the construction and operation of the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) took place during the week of October 20 at the National Science Foundation. The ARRV team led by Seward Marine Center Director Dan Oliver and Institute of Marine Science Director Terry Whitledge participated in the ARRV Final Design Review. NSF assembled a panel of fifteen arctic scientists, ship operators, naval architects and others to review the UAF plans for the construction and operation of the ARRV. The purpose of the review was to "formally examine the ARRV project scope, budget, schedule and Project Execution Plan (PEP), with the goal of providing an expert assessment of construction readiness". The panel reported to NSF (verbally) that in the opinion of the panel "the program is ready to proceed." The panel will provide their written report to NSF in late November and we should receive the report from NSF with a "guidance memo" shortly afterward.

As I reported to the Provost after the meeting, the ARRV team hit a home run at this review. The chair of the panel mentioned on several days that they were impressed with the level of detail provided by the ARRV team. For example, the bottom up cost estimate for the ARRV ran over 1,500 pages and the thirty-page outfitting list included the number of tie wraps and quantities for two different kinds of duct tape. One panel member from Norway asked that we not allow the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research to see the level of detail we provided as they are not now required to provide this much information in justifying new projects. I have sent the Provost a commendation memorandum recognizing the tremendous effort that Dan Oliver, Terry Whitledge, and Ship Construction Manager Gary Smith made to produce this successful review. They produced a sound construction and operation plan in partnership with The Glosten Associates in Seattle, especially Dirk Kristensen, and Marc Willis from Oregon State University. Many others have contributed over the years to move this project where we are nearing the reality of having a first rate research vessel for arctic studies. With National Science Board approval of the Final Design Review at their May 2009 meeting, NSF will be in a position to request the balance of the construction money from Congress next year. If the schedule holds, the ARRV will be delivered to UAF in 2013.

During the trip to DC for the ARRV review, I took the opportunity to meet with UA Federal Relations Director Martha Stewart on October 23 to provide an update on SFOS activities as well as the ARRV status. I also met with John Farrell, Executive Director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC), to provide an update on the ARRV and to discuss plans for an Arctic Open House that we are hosting with the USARC on December 18 during the American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco. After completing the final design review at NSF, Dan Oliver, Terry Whitledge, and I had dinner with Jim Balsiger, NOAA Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries and a member of the SFOS Advisory Council, at Terry's favorite Mexican restaurant. It was a lively celebration with several rounds of margaritas consumed.

The ARRV was also a topic of discussion at the UNOLS Council and Annual Meeting at NSF October 2 and 3. I attended as the UAF UNOLS representative and provided an update on the vessel. This will be the last meeting I will attend as the UAF UNOLS representative. I have asked IMS Director Terry Whitledge to take over as the UAF representative to UNOLS.

Marine Advisory Program (MAP) Leader Paula Cullenberg and I received some other good news when we visited Princess Tours in Anchorage on October 13. At the meeting, Bruce Bustamante, Princess Tours Vice President for Community and Public Affairs, advised us that Princess will be providing SFOS a gift of $100,000 over the next three years to support our Marine Advisory Program. SFOS Public Information Officer Carin Stephens and Development Officer Teresa Thompson will work with Anita Nelson from Princess on a roll out announcement of the gift in January.

The Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC) Policy Council met in Anchorage on October 8 to review FITC activities. This was the first Policy Council meeting hosted by FITC Director Murat Balaban who welcomed Greg Peters of Alyeska Seafoods in Dutch Harbor as a new member. Murat presented the FITC Position, Vision, and Strategic Plan to the council. The plan showed the importance of value-added processing of Alaska seafood and how FITC could become a larger part of that effort.

SFOS Conversations was held this month on October 30. The small group discussed the ARRV, new faculty hiring, development activities, support of Alaska Public Radio, and my planned trip to China in December (paid for by the UA Vice President for Academic Affairs). SFOS Development Officer Teresa Thompson missed SFOS Conversations as she spent most of the week of October 27 in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon visiting with seafood company executives and SFOS alumni. Teresa presented an overview of our activities and showed several ways in which industry could support our faculty and students.

I ended the month in Fairbanks at the University of Alaska Scholars reception on the evening of October 31 at the Wood Center. UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers and UA President Mark Hamilton honored the UA Scholars, students who have graduated in the upper 10% of their high school class in Alaska. Each student's name was announced as they walked across the stage to have their picture taken with President Hamilton. Afterward, several students visited with Assistant Professor of Fisheries Andres Lopez and SFOS Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Murra. I was impressed that Katie remembered the names of the students when they came to speak with us.

October was a great month for our school. The quality of our work was certainly recognized by the National Science Foundation at the ARRV Final Design Review. That was a proud week for SFOS and for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. We showed them that UAF could put together an outstanding team of scientists, naval architects, engineers, and project managers to successfully manage the construction and operation of what will be the premier oceanographic research vessel operated by any academic institution in the U.S. Congratulations to all involved.