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April 2010 Report from the SFOS Dean

As I write this, I am sitting in my room at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage as the early morning light creeps through the window. The Captain Cook has become my home away from home the last six years, either for the Alaska Marine Science Symposium or for numerous meetings in the nearby building our Marine Advisory Program (MAP) occupies along with the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC), the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), and the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB). I represent UAF on the boards of all three organizations and I am here for the NPRB spring meeting during which $3,927,532 was awarded in new projects. SFOS faculty always do well in this annual competition and this year we were awarded 28% of the new funding. I was pleased to see that three of the six SFOS projects funded involved our MAP faculty with those from other SFOS units.

Space in Fairbanks continues to be the major limitation to expanding our research activities. SFOS Administrative Manager Greg Simpson and I met with UAF space czar Deb Horner on April 1 to request additional space in the basement of the O'Neill Building. Our ocean observing efforts are expanding with new gliders and high frequency radar systems and we need additional space to stage them for deployment. We toured the basement with Tom Weingartner, Peter Winsor and Hank Statscewich to illustrate our need for more logistics area. We have an official request in to the Provost.

Each Thursday in April, SFOS Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Straub and I meet to review our student recruiting efforts and to track admissions progress. With Katie orchestrating an enhanced recruiting effort on the part of our faculty and staff, the number of fisheries undergraduates has tripled in the last four years with 52 students in the program this year. We have 31 new undergraduate applicants for the fall semester with 15 students already enrolled. These numbers are well ahead of last year and have us on course for an undergraduate population of 100 within five years.

On April 6, Greg Simpson and I met with Alberto Pantoja who heads the U.S. Department of Agriculture office on campus. USDA occupies one of our laboratories on the second floor of O'Neill and we discussed their planned move to Kodiak. If everything proceeds on schedule, they will move in June and this laboratory will be available to us for expanding our teaching and research activities in oceanography and marine biology. I hope it will also help in recruiting a new faculty member next year.

The SFOS Advisory Council meet in Fairbanks April 16-18 to review our activities and to provide advice to the Chancellor on new directions for SFOS. SFOS is privileged to have an outstanding group ( who gives their time to support our programs. During the meeting, the Council reviewed our academic programs, communication plan, development activities, and discussed future research opportunities. Plans and activities of our Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC) in Kodiak were given the most attention. FITC Director Murat Balaban gave an overview of activities at FITC and the Council considered plans for new academic and research programs there. The Council recommended to the Chancellor that a task force be established to take a focused look at FITC and determine the best options for implementing the FITC concept. The Council has been a strong support of the Alaska Region Research Vessel, now the R/V Sikuliaq, and were "buoyed by the news of the excellent progress" on the ship. They concluded by noting that they are optimistic that SFOS will continue to maintain and improve its standards of excellence in teaching, research and service. I have enjoyed working with the Council and its chair, Dr. David Policansky from the National Research Council, and know they will continue to provide sage advice to the Chancellor and dean in years ahead.

On April 20, SFOS Development Officer Teresa Thompson and I met by telephone with Craig Tornga, Vice President for Alaska Operations of Crowley Maritime Corporation. Teresa has been working with Crowley over the last 18 months to familiarize them with our programs and to understand their philanthropic interests. She has visited with them in Jacksonville, Florida, Oakland, California, and Anchorage. As we know development is a process and it takes time to develop the relationships that lead to support for our programs. During our teleconference, Craig advised us that Crowley will provide us four $5,000 scholarships annually. This is the largest gift that Crowley has made in Alaska. Additionally, they are going to provide additional support (amount to be determined) to our Alaska region National Ocean Sciences Bowl, the Tsunami Bowl, that we host each February in Seward.

Associate Dean Mike Castellini and I attended the UAF student Awards Breakfast at the Wood Center in Fairbanks on April 24. The event honors the most outstanding student in each degree program. I gave a brief overview of SFOS state-wide activities at the breakfast and Chancellor Rogers presented the award to our outstanding fisheries undergraduate, Matthew Catterson who is based in Juneau. Matthew was escorted by Assistant Professor Andy Seitz.

Encouraged by our development success with Crowley Maritime, Teresa and I traveled to Seattle April 26-28 to meet with alumni, prospective donors and to thank some of our current donors. Over two days, we met with

Teresa has done a great job working with our donors and helping us reconnect with our alumni. We were pleased that our alums are reading our newsletters and truly care about the continued success of our programs.

On April 28, we learned the Professor Tom Weingartner had won the 2010 Emil Usibelli Award for Research. This is one of the top honors at UAF. Tom was nominated by the SFOS fisheries faculty and by Associate Professor Russ Hopcroft. This was well deserved and we are rightfully proud. You can read about the award on our web site at

Molly McCammon, Executive Director of the Alaska Ocean Observing System, visited with us in Fairbanks on April 29. She met with Tom Weingartner, Peter Winsor, and me to discuss future directions for SFOS. Several of our faculty have expressed concern that AOOS is not doing enough to establish platforms for continuous data collection. We discussed how AOOS could better meet the needs of key stakeholders in Alaska including coastal communities, the oil and gas industry, and commercial fisheries. We stressed the need for a coherent, long-term vision. SFOS currently operates the AOOS Data Management Center, but AOOS has decided to go out for bids for their data management needs. We have purchased replacements for the AOOS servers in case AOOS data management is transferred to another entity. We will continue operating a data center to support our and other research activities and have taken the steps necessary to do so.

I ended the month by attending the UAF Executive Leadership Workshop hosted by Chancellor Rogers at the International Arctic Research Center. Alaska Sea Grant Director David Christie also attended. Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Pat Pitney presented a budget overview for FY10 and FY11 (it is challenging) and discussed budget decision making for FY12 and FY13 (even more challenging). While UAF is better off than universities in 45 of the 50 states (the University of Maine received a 30% cut in 2010), shortfalls in revenues and increased central cost will result in a 4 to 5% reduction in the SFOS budget in FY11. A university-wide committee is being established (volunteers welcome) to establish criteria for budget reductions in administrative, support, academic, and research areas.

As I prepare to move on to new endeavors, and bigger budget problems, at the University of Southern Mississippi, this will be my final monthly report. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to serve as Dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. I thank all of you for your advice and support during my six years at UAF. With an outstanding faculty and a great supporting staff, I share the optimism of the Advisory Council that SFOS will continue to maintain and improve its standards of excellence in teaching, research and service in the years ahead. I look forward to following y'all's successes from down South.