Pat Pitney named UA President

Appointment makes Pitney first woman in the role

Pat Pitney was named President of the University of Alaska Friday after serving as interim president for over a year. She is the first woman to hold the position in UA’s history. (Courtesy photo / University of Alaska)

Pat Pitney was named President of the University of Alaska Friday after serving as interim president for over a year. She is the first woman to hold the position in UA’s history. (Courtesy photo / University of Alaska)

The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted to make Pat Pitney president of the university system, a position she had been serving in an interim capacity since July 2020. She is the first woman to hold the position.

At a meeting Friday, regents voted unanimously to confirm Pitney, who took over the system after the departure of former president Jim Johnsen who left following criticism of his leadership.

“I am truly honored and humbled to lead this great university system. I am dedicated to continuing to build a strong team with shared governance, with our staff, and with each of our universities. I’m excited about our future,” Pitney said.

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Pitney worked for University of Alaska Fairbanks for 17 years before becoming the director of the Division of Legislative Finance in 2014 and took the reins of the university amid deep budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon taking office, Pitney said she wanted to return a sense of stability to the system which had recently cut several programs amid a phased budget reduction Gov. Mike Dunleavy negotiated with the regents in 2019.

Cuts to the university system at one point threatened the consolidation of the three UA campuses into one or merging UA Southeast with UAF, but Pitney said early in her tenure those ideas were no longer being considered.

Earlier this month Pitney told the state Senate Education Committee the university was refining its programs to better meet the workforce demands of the state.

Also Friday, regents passed its strategic goals for the system, UA said in a news release, including specific measures that will document progress on each goal which Pitney said will serve as the university’s roadmap.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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