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October 2009 Report from the SFOS Dean

I begin this report with news of the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV), although most of the news came at the end of October. Our ARRV team, headed by Seward Marine Center Director Dan Oliver, IMS Director Terry Whitledge and Project Director Gary Smith, continue to do an outstanding job and the project is moving ahead exceptionally well. Shipyard cost proposals for the ARRV were received on October 28 from shipyards that passed the earlier technical qualification step. The cost proposal is one of the most important stages in the procurement process as we will soon know whether the funds allocated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) are sufficient to construct the vessel. The ARRV Shipyard Selection Board will meet in Fairbanks the week of November 2 to review the bids and prepare a recommendation to NSF. We hope to provide them some good news when we meet with NSF ARRV program managers in Washington, DC on November 17. Stay tuned.

Our fall SFOS newsletter was mailed this month and I wish to thank everyone who contributed to the newsletter. The SFOS newsletter reaches over 1,000 alumni, employees, students, and others around Alaska. SFOS Public Information Officer Carin Stephens organizes and edits the newsletter and I know she appreciated those who contributed articles. We have received several compliments from well-known graphical artists on the quality and presentation of the SFOS newsletter and I have received other positive reports from alumni and benefactors. If you have not seen the newsletter, please check it out on the web at Additional copies are available in the Dean's Office.

Several meetings were on my agenda this month. I attended the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) advisory board meeting in Anchorage on October 5. COSEE Alaska ( is a partnership between SFOS, the Alaska Ocean Observing System, the Alaska SeaLife Center, the UAF Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, the Anchorage School District, and the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. The NSF-funded program seeks to increase ocean literacy within and outside Alaska. Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Larry LeDoux chaired the advisory board meeting. SFOS faculty member Marilyn Sigman, based in Anchorage, has primary responsibility for our COSEE activities.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence hosted a two-day round-table discussion and lecture on issues of national intelligence on October 14 – 15 in Fairbanks. Professor John Kelley was the primary organizer of the meeting and SFOS provided most of the logistics with Assistant to the Dean Edward Elliott making the arrangements and Fiscal Manager Angela Gies paying the bills. One purpose of the conference was to evaluate UAF as a potential Office of the Director of National Intelligence Center of Academic Excellence.

My first university business trip out of Alaska since June was October 13 – 16, when I was in San Diego to attend a Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) workshop on Major Gift Solicitation. Along with 95 other attendees from around North America and a few from Asia, I learned the process of "making the ask" for large donations. Besides the high quality presentations from experienced major gift officers, the most interesting session was called "What would you do?" in which major gift officers presented conversations they had encountered in which they had to respond quickly and asked you to suggest the best approach. My favorite situation was when the gift officer was told by a potential donor that the dean had been there too long and was out of touch with reality. How would you respond?

The International Arctic Fisheries Symposium was held in Anchorage October 19-21, see . The meeting was hosted by the Institute of the North and SFOS was a co-sponsor. Tom Weingartner gave a presentation on the physical oceanography of the Arctic in the session on scientific perspectives on climate change and Arctic fisheries. Other faculty in attendance were Dave Christie, Jennifer Reynolds, Brenda Norcross, Shannon Atkinson, Andy Seitz, Keith Criddle, and me. Alaska Sea Grant Communications Director Kurt Byers also attended and four SFOS Advisory Council members (Doug DeMaster, Heather McCarty, Ian Dutton, and Margaret Williams) participated in the three-day meeting. U.S. Ambassador David Balton, deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, played a large role in the meeting and commented in closing the meeting that additional research is needed before decisions will be made for future fisheries. Many participants stated a need for monitoring the ecosystem before any fisheries begin for both pelagic and benthic fish. Former NOAA scientist and SFOS Ph.D. graduate Jeff Short emphasized that we did not wish to end up in a situation similar to Prince William Sound in 1989 when little ecosystem data were available to interpret significant anthropogenic changes.

While in Anchorage for the fisheries symposium, I made a brief visit on October 19 to the annual meeting of the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP) to provide some information to the principals about our undergraduate fisheries degrees. The organization is also providing information on the Tsunami Bowl, the Alaska Region National Ocean Sciences Bowl, to the principals to encourage participation in the event by additional five-member high school teams. Fourteen teams have signed up to participate in February 2010 in Seward and another six teams have expressed interest. SFOS Development Officer Teresa Thompson is working to raise additional funds for the Tsunami Bowl so we can support travel and expenses so that more rural Alaska schools can participate in the event.

Back in Fairbanks on October 22 – 24, Teresa Thompson and I attended a workshop entitled Considering a Roadmap Forward: The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA). UAF hosted the workshop along with the University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy (UArctic), and Dartmouth College. Chancellor Brian Rogers welcomed the attendees who worked over three days to develop an implementation roadmap for the seventeen recommendations provided in the AMSA. Dr. Michael Sfraga, associate dean of the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and director of the University of Alaska Geography Program, and Dr. Lawson Brigham, were the coordinators for the workshop that was held at the Princess Riverside Hotel in Fairbanks.

A scholarship has been named in honor of an undergraduate fisheries student, Blake Nunemann, who died September 30. Blake was the stepson of ARRV Program Coordinator Lori Nunemann. The Blake Nunemann Memorial Scholarship has been set up within SFOS to celebrate Blake's life and his love for fisheries, as well as encourage young scientists to broaden their understanding of the field. Information about the scholarship is available on line at

This October was the first real fall I have experienced in Fairbanks with relatively warm days and cool nights. The temperature did not go below freezing for good until October 24 and we had no snow this month until October 26. A month of fall kept everyone in our office in a good mood and should make the winter a month shorter. The only complaints were from those who were ready for ski season and I am sure they will be delighted with November.