Dear UAA Community,
This week I travel to Fairbanks for the Board of Regents meeting. There will be much on the agenda, including Seawolf athletics. Difficult decisions have had to be made and there has been much drama. I am very proud of the great success our student athletes are having both in competition and in the classroom. I believe the path we are taking will lead to even greater support for and advancement of our athletic program. Your support of Seawolf athletics is vital and greatly appreciated. Together we are moving forward and providing our student athletes the best program possible. Read more for an update on the hockey coach search.
Also on the agenda at the Board of Regents is a review of some of the amazing stories that are being written every day at UAA.
UAA students earned more awards than ever this year, 2,421, which is 5 percent more than last year's 2,313.
Since the launch of the "Stay on Track" campaign enrollment in 15+ credits has increased 21 percent from Fall '11 to Fall '12 among those who entered UAA. Not only are more students taking 15 credits, they are doing better than those taking fewer credits.
What's contributing to this? A streamlined credit transfer process including 100 percent of UAS and UAF GER courses transfer into UAA. Better and more comprehensive advising including the newly formed Student Access, Advising & Transition division in Student Affairs which will work with students from before admission through their second year. After a national search, Lacy Karpilo was selected to lead the new division. Dr. Karpilo holds a doctorate in education and human resource studies with an emphasis in higher education, and had served as the director of Residence Life for the Anchorage campus since 2009.
As former dean of the College of Business and Public Policy, I've seen first-hand the energy that comes with innovation and entrepreneurial ventures. The INNOVATE awards have funded 29 proposals in two years. We have nine patents pending, 25 invention disclosures. Our first startup, ZENSOR, LLC, was formed earlier this year and a second startup, a deicing system (link to PowerPoint) based on carbon fiber tapes is in the works.
Research at UAA supports Alaska's environment, educational policy, social and economic policy, healthy communities and our justice system. The projects range from helping mitigate climate change impacts on health to figuring out what might be contributing to declining wild salmon runs.
This is just the tip of the iceberg—our partnerships with public and private industry partners have funded the Alaska Airlines Center ($6.3M gift) and labs, like the BP Asset Integrity and Corrosion Lab ($1M). Our partnerships with K-12 have created the Alaska Middle College at our Chugiak-Eagle River Campus and helped teachers stay in their rural communities while earning a teaching degree.
Of course, there is so much more. But I want to leave you with one story that Mat-Su College Director Talis Colberg sent today. It's the story of Dean Larson, a nationally known artist who resides and teaches art in San Francisco. His commissioned work can be found at the White House, churches, universities, museums, courthouses and in corporate collections. He has written books, been extensively featured in numerous art periodicals, has shown in museums and galleries across the U. S. Dean grew up in Palmer, Alaska and took his first college class at Mat-Su College in 1975.
Last week he came back to the Mat-Su campus to participate in the 3rd Annual Machetanz Art Festival and to donate an original oil painting "Fresh Snowfall," in honor of the late Al Okeson, a former director of Mat-Su College.
The connection between Dean Larson and Mat-Su College is one of those wonderful ties born of local talent being mentored and nurtured in the community. Dean credits Fred Machetanz—his early teacher—for inspiring him to become an artist. Al Okeson, director of Mat-Su College from 1961-1988, recognized Dean's talent and invited him back to the college to teach, a tradition that was repeated through the years.
"Dean Larson, once a student at the college, is now a donor to the college," Director Colberg writes. "The life of Dean Larson is confirmation of the college slogan 'Opportunities start here.'"
I couldn't have said it better.
Visiting artist Dean Larson returns to his hometown to participate in the 3rd Annual Machetanz Art Festival and donate his original oil painting "Fresh Snowfall" to the college in memory of former Director Al Okeson. In the photo are: Professor Felicia Desimini, the director of the Machetanz Art Festival, Matanuska-Susitna College Director Talis Colberg, Mrs. Gloria Okeson and visiting Professor Dean Larson gifting the painting in memory of former director Okeson.