What others say: UAF begins search for a leader

  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016 4:15pm
  • Opinion

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been the state’s flagship college campus for almost 100 years, and soon it may again have a permanent chancellor. Budget woes caused the delay in finding a permanent replacement for departed Chancellor Brian Rogers, who resigned in August 2015. And though interim Chancellors Mike Powers and Dana Thomas have served the campus well since then, a permanent chancellor will give the institution clarity of direction and stability going forward at a time when those qualities are sorely needed.

Former Chancellor Rogers, who had served since 2008, left his post in August 2015 after the first year of strong legislative pressure to reduce the system’s budget. The resignation came as a shock; not only was Chancellor Rogers well regarded in the community, but he also was considered a leading candidate to take over as president of the entire university system from departing President Patrick Gamble. In announcing his resignation, Chancellor Rogers cited health issues brought on by the stress of office, stemming not only from the budget pressure but also UAF’s issues relating to compliance with advising requirements for NCAA athletes.

The intervening year and four months for UAF and other University of Alaska Fairbanks campuses has indeed been challenging. Two years of reduced budgets for the institution resulted in the consideration and later rejection of single accreditation across the university’s campuses. That proposed shift, considered as a cost-saving measure, caused the university to drop a nationwide search for a permanent chancellor after three finalists, all of them from outside Alaska, had already been selected. This year, an internal university report suggested that the savings from single accreditation would not be nearly as pronounced as expected, and there would be considerable risks of negative impacts that would outweigh any potential savings.

Accordingly, after strong work by interim chancellors Mike Powers and Dana Thomas, UAF is once again beginning a search for a permanent chancellor. This should be a positive for the campus. Though both Mr. Powers and Mr. Thomas have done good work for UAF, more continuity of effort would help that work take root. When Mr. Powers was interim chancellor, for instance, he announced a new focus on Title IX compliance and support of potential victims of domestic violence and sexual assault on campus. And though UAF has certainly made noticeable strides in adopting an attitude condemning those problems, recent allegations by students going through the Title IX process would be a good place for a permanent chancellor to focus and provide a sustained change for the institution.

The search for a chancellor will be nationwide, though strong consideration will be given to applicants who have in-state experience. That’s wise, as the university’s budget level appears far from settled, and much work will need to be done making changes under President Jim Johnsen’s Strategic Pathways plan. As the university approaches its centennial, UAF should remain the system’s flagship campus for many years to come, and a permanent chancellor will help lead the way.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

Dec. 15

More in Opinion

WH
Opinion: The buck stops at the top

Shared mistakes of Dunleavy and Biden.

A sign welcomes people to Kenai United Methodist Church on Monday, Sept. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
It’s time for a federal law against LGBTQ discrimination

When my wife and I decided to move to Alaska, we wondered if we would be welcome in our new neighborhood.

Terri Spigelmyer. (Photo provided)
Pay It Forward: Instilling volunteerism in the next generation

We hope to have instilled in our children empathy, cultural awareness, long-term planning and the selflessness of helping others

Hal Shepherd in an undated photo taken near Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Hal Shepherd.)
Point of View: Election integrity or right-wing power grab?

Dr. King would be appalled at what is happening today

Nancy HIllstrand. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Trail Lakes is the sockeye salmon hero, not Tutka Bay

Tutka hatchery produces a pink salmon monoculture desecrating Kachemak Bay State Park and Critical Habitat Area as a feed lot

A map of Kachemak Bay State Park shows proposed land additions A, B and C in House Bill 52 and the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery. (Map courtesy of Alaska State Parks)
Opinion: Rep. Vance’s bill is anti-fishermen

House Bill 52 burdens 98.5% of Cook Inlet fishermen.

A sign designates a vote center during the recent municipal election. The center offered a spot for voters to drop off ballots or fill a ballot out in person. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The failure of mail-in voting

The argument that mail-in balloting increases voter participation never impressed me

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Break the cycle of failure, debt in 2022

Today, all Americans are coerced, embarrassed or otherwise influenced into one of two old political parties

Charlie Franz.
Point of View: Election integrity is not anti-democratic

The federalization of elections by the Freedom to Vote Act infringes on the constitutional right of states to regulate elections.

Most Read