Alaska Native Languages Bill Signed at AFN

Thursday, October 23, 2014 about 200 people crammed into a small conference room at the Dena’ina Center to witness the Alaska Native Languages bill signing ceremony at the 2014 Alaska Federation of Natives conference in Anchorage. Alaska Native languages program head X’unei Lance Twitchell praised the work of Sitka representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and other lawmakers and stakeholders who advocated for recognition of the 20 Native languages as official languages of the State of Alaska. “We do this for our grandchildren, we do this for our ancestors,” said Twitchell. Twitchell was active in the effort to push the recognition bill through the Legislature. He and other supporters, included many students, staged a sit-in at the state capitol during the most recent legislative session. In the end, after 15 hours, the group was victorious. Despite the new law, Twitchell said the fight for Native rights and equality is far from over.

X’unei Lance Twitchell addresses the crowd

X’unei Lance Twitchell addresses the crowd at the Alaska Native Languages recognition bill signing ceremony in Anchorage, October 23, 2014.


Arts and Sciences News

A coastal resilience project initiated by Assistant Professor of Marine Biology Carolyn Bergstrom has been selected for funding by Alaska Sea Grant funding through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  The project “Resilience of Estuarine Groundfish Communities to Future Changes in Glacial Effluent” will involve Anne Beaudreau, a colleague from the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

English faculty Emily Wall recently taught a writing workshop for the Juneau community aimed at helping people create and submit poems for the Juneau Arts Council Poetry Omnibus.  Selected poems will be displayed on city buses in January, and the successful poets will be honored at a reception at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center on January 8, 2015.

Rabbi Barbara Aiello from Congregation Ner Tamid del Sud in Serrastretta, Italy, gave a presentation on Sephardic Jews of the Mediterranean in Robin Walz’s History 105 class on Monday, September 29.  The first and only female rabbi in Italy, Rabbi Aiello is also the founder and director of the Italian Cultural Center of Calabria, an organization that assists Italian Jews forcibly converted during the sixteenth-century Inquisition to reestablish their cultural roots by investigating family surnames, heirloom items passed down over several generations, and the maintenance of family rituals and practices.

Math faculty Brian Buma had a paper published in Geomorphology about the interactions between wind storms and subsequent landslides in southeast Alaskan forests:

Buma B, Johnson AC. 2014.  Disturbance interactions mediated by topography:  Wind exposure, landslide susceptibility, and yellow cedar decline in southeast Alaskan temperate rainforests.  Geomorphology.  228, 504-511.

Associate Professor of English and Humanities Department Chair Nina Chordas attended a conference of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association October 9-11 in Boise, Idaho.  She presented a paper titled “Renaissance Civic Humanism through a Soviet Lens,” featuring her own translations of Soviet scholarship on the European Renaissance.

Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Languages X̱’unei Lance Twitchell was an invited lecturer at the 2014 Building Tribal Nations Symposium at the University of Wyoming on October 13.  He gave the presentation, “Reshaping Standards: Alaska Native Language Revitalization Efforts.” 

Math faculty Christopher Hay-Jahans presented a talk entitled Headwater Stream Temperatures: A Conceptual deconstruction and Biological Implications at the seventh International Symposium on Biomathematics and Ecology: Education and Research earlier this month in Claremont, California.  The talk relates to work Chris is collaborating on with researches from the US Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station.


UAS will Benefit from BLaST!

A $23.8 million grant to boost the undergraduate study of biomedical research and health sciences by rural Alaska students will offer new education opportunities at 10 campuses from Kotzebue to Ketchikan. The National Institutes of Health announced the five-year grant, one of 10 programs funded nationwide as a means of fostering interest in biomedical and health careers. The Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) program is to be led by UAF faculty Barbara Taylor, an associate professor of neurobiology; Karsten Hueffer, an associate professor of veterinary microbiology; and Arleigh Reynolds, associate dean of the Department of Veterinary Medicine. In a letter of support for the grant application, UAS Chancellor John Pugh wrote, “The BUILD BLaST grant support will provide resources for UAS to enhance and provide greater access to relevant science education and biomedical research opportunities for UAS undergraduate students. BLaST’s aim to enhance diversity of the biomedical workforce by engaging rural Alaskan students in science education and biomedical training is an endeavor we whole-heartedly support.” Pugh also said it "gives us the opportunity to transform science education in Alaska."

Chancellor John Pugh Announces May 2015 Retirement

Chancellor John PughUniversity of Alaska Southeast Chancellor John Pugh has announced his retirement, set for for May 29, 2015. Since August 1999 Pugh has been at the helm of the state public university with campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. The announcement marks the completion of a 28-year career at UAS that began in 1987, including service as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and the Dean of Faculty.

“I have enjoyed being a part of a dynamic, growing institution over the years,” said Pugh.  “My public service career spans 45 years with the U.S. Air Force, the State of Alaska, and the University of Alaska. I have had the pleasure of working with many excellent administrators, professional staff, and faculty throughout my career. However, UAS Chancellor is the best position I have held. I strongly believe in the importance of higher education to the future of Alaska. It has been an honor to be a part of the building of the University of Alaska system.”

Pugh has also served on statewide and regional task forces, commissions, and boards.  “All in all, I feel that together with my dedicated colleagues I have accomplished much.”

Many significant changes have occurred under Chancellor Pugh’s leadership, including major building projects such as the Egan Classroom Wing, Recreation Facility and recently completed Freshman Residence Hall on the Juneau campus. He is most proud of the quality academic and workforce programs developed during his tenure.

In a memo to employees, Pugh thanked staff and faculty for their service and encouraged them “to stay engaged and work together with the administration to provide a smooth transition in UAS leadership.”

"John Pugh is an Alaska higher education landmark and a tireless UA leader for the Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan campuses. We will be challenged to find another chancellor with the same love for his university community of students, faculty and staff," said UA President Pat Gamble .

Gamble anticipates a successful transition to a new UAS Chancellor. He intends to travel to Juneau in the coming weeks to discuss with Pugh and members of the UAS community the next steps in finding a successor.

After his retirement in May, Pugh looks forward to visiting extended family, traveling with his wife Margaret and spending more time with their granddaughters.

The Juneau Empire published a front page article with some of Chancellor Pugh’s reflections on his many years at UAS in the Wednesday, October 29 edition.


Halloween 2014 Slideshow

Offices choose a theme and compete for the best created atmosphere and costumes. This year the Business Office won for the Adams Family. Other close competitors included Student Resource Center with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and IT with Super Mario Brothers. Check out the slideshow that covers just about the entire day, ending with the REC Center Halloween Dance.

UAS Ketchikan Hosts Chamber After Hours Open House

Join Campus Director Priscilla Schulte in opening our doors and inviting the public to the main campus on Friday, November 14 from 5:00pm-7:00pm. With changes to the upper campus recently, we want to bring the community in and show them what’s new and what’s happening here at UAS Ketchikan. This is a great opportunity to showcase our programs, our faculty and our staff. Bingo, refreshments and door prize.

Have a Whale of a Wednesday!

Show you school spriit on Wednesday

Show your school spirit by wearing blue and white or UAS logo gear on the first Wednesday of every month

To get inspired, be sure to check out the new Whale Wednesday Website, with Spike Whale history, photos and answers to trivia questions such as, How did Spike get his name? and When did Spike first  set fluke on campus?

  • Post your photos to social media with #UASWhaleWednesday.
  • The best Whale Wednesday photo post will receive a prize of UAS swag!

This initiative brought to you by UAS Campus Life. For questions and comments, please contact


Group Salsa Dance

Last year's salsa dance

On November 8th, the UAS Dance Club will host its second Group Salsa (Rueda) Dance starting at 7:30pm at the Rec Center. Rueda is style of salsa dance where dancers form a large group circle change partners continuously as the caller guides the group through dance steps. No prior experience is necessary; instruction on the dance steps will be provided by Pat Belec, Mark Hopson, and Alejandro Soria. Dancers are encouraged to arrive by 7:30pm (as first steps taught are danced throughout the evening) and to wear comfortable shoes!. This event is free and open to the public.


Filipina Receives Meritorious Service Award

As part of October’s Filipino-American History Month, Filipino Community Inc. (FCI) held a celebration at the Filipino Community Center to commend Honorary Consul General Jennifer Gomez Strickler. Strickler is the first person to hold the position as Alaska’s Honorary Consul General of the Republic of the Philippines. She was appointed in 2013 and honored by the State Legislature. Chancellor John Pugh presented Strickler with the UAS Meritorious Service Award for her dedication to strengthening relations between Filipinos and the state of Alaska. Under Strickler’s leadership, the Filipino Community has enhanced its scholarship program. Nominated for the award by the President of FCI, Strickler has worked as consul for the Republic of the Philippines in Alaska since 2002. Between 2005 and 2012, she served three terms as President of the Filipino Community Inc. She lobbied for state funding to re-establish the Alaska Office of Citizenship Assistance after funding collapsed in 2007. The FCI was then honored to host the Consulate on Wings, bringing consulate services to Southeast Alaska. Under her leadership, FCI was awarded the 2012 Filipino-American History Achievement Award for Community Service.

UAS Academic Leadership Seminar

This year's leadership seminar participantsHere is the crew at the first session of the 2014 leadership seminar. The Saturday morning sessions are led by Provost Rick Caulfield at the Egan Library.

Perseverance Theatre Discounts for UAS

In order to receive the discount, use the code AKBP1415PT when ordering.

In Juneau, tickets can be ordered by calling 463-TIXS, visiting, or by visiting the Juneau Arts and Culture Center or Hearthside books. In Anchorage, buy tickets at or call 263-ARTS.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Just in time for Chicago the Musical!
Open: Nov 7, 2014
Close: Dec 7, 2014

Other 36TH Season Opening and Closing Dates

The Mountaintop
Open: Jan 9, 2015
Close: Feb 1, 2015

The Odd Couple
Open: March 6, 2015
Close: March 29, 2015

Open: May 1, 2015
Close: May 24, 2015
Open: April 10, 2015
Close: April 26, 2015

Contact: Amy O’Neill Houck (907) 364 - 2421 xt 230


UA Health Plan Incentive Program

The plan officially kicks off November 1 and employees will be receiving information in their home mailboxes on how to qualify for next year’s rebates. Activities to qualify must be completed by April 30, 2015. There are lots of ways to qualify including getting an annual eye exam, dental exam, immunization (including flu shots), completing Healthyroads Lifestyle coaching sessions, plus logging a wide variety of physical activity. Ketchikan staff members Gwenna Richardson is on the statewide Joint Health Care Committee and Wendy Miles is one of the UAS representatives for the Staff Alliance Health Care Committee.  If you have thoughts/concerns about this incentive program, please share them with Gwenna or Wendy.  

2015 URECA award application

UAS is excited to announce that this year’s Undergraduate REsearch and Creative Activity (URECA) application period is now open.  If you have a research or creative project that you would like to undertake, please consider applying for funding through URECA.  We can offer up to $2,500 to selected students who design and complete their own projects with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Challenge your students to dig into something they’ve always been curious about!
Important dates to note:

  • Deadline for submission of applications is 5:00 pm, December 15, 2014.
  • Funding for successful applicants will become available beginning in February 2015.
  • Projects must be completed by December 2015.
  • Successful applicants will present their projects to the UAS community at the April 2015 or April 2016 URECA symposium.

More information about URECA, including summaries of previous projects, is available on the research website.

If you have questions about the URECA program please contact Assistant Professor Brian Vander Naald ( or Proposal Coordinator Kelly Jensen (

This could be just the opportunity some of your students have been looking for!
Karen Schmitt, Ph.D.
 Vice Provost of Research & Sponsored Programs