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A Life of Service

John Pugh

I came to the UAS in 1987 as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, a position I held for nine years before being promoted to Dean of Faculty. I was appointed Chancellor in August 1999 by University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton. I’ve seen a lot of change in my first twenty years at UAS. I have watched the University grow into an integral resource for Southeast communities as well as an important economic contributor.

2005 4th of July Parade Float

Through all the change, UAS remains, and my goal is that it will remain, a small public liberal arts college with excellent faculty and academic programs. One of my first tasks as Chancellor was to create a strategic plan to guide UAS into the future. I felt passionately that our mission include access to research and fieldwork by undergraduate students and using our environment as a living classroom.

Being the child of two professional social workers, who both also happened to be educators, you might say that my career path was written into my DNA. After college I enlisted in the Air Force where I worked as a social worker during the Vietnam era. Between 1971 and ’78 I taught as an adjunct professor of social work at Anchorage Community College as well as UA Anchorage, followed by 15 years of service with the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services. Governor Sheffield appointed me as Commissioner of the department in 1983; a post I held until coming to UAS.

Chancellor Pugh at Studio 51

I believe in civic engagement and enjoy being active in community service organizations such as Rotary International. For the past three years I have served as the Chair of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, and as a trustee on the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority for the past ten. The job of Chancellor keeps me pretty busy, but I also find the time to attend many student events throughout the year, and even jump in Auke Bay during the Polar Bear Plunge in February!

My job has many rewards, but none is greater than watching students enter UAS as freshmen, take full advantage of all we offer, and graduate with confidence in taking on the next phase of their lives. We have a lot of fun here at UAS, but there is no mistaking that our primary focus is the academic success of our students.