Chancellor talks new budget, old concerns

Recently instated Chancellor Dan White addresses a crowd of UAF students and faculty during this month’s convocation speech. Photo courtesy of JR Ancheta

Amid funding cuts in the tune of $8 million, $2.7 million of which comes directly out of UAF’s budget, a new chancellor had the job of addressing students and faculty at this years convocation.

“Five years of cuts, five years of cuts, roughly twenty million dollars, that’s a lot of money, and I realize that’s a lot of things we just can’t keep doing,” Chancellor Dan White said.

UAF hosted the 2017 Convocation on Tuesday, September 12. UAF’s convocation is usually held in the first months of fall semester, and gives the chancellor a chance to address the university about the coming academic year. Chancellor White started by welcoming new students, highlighting staff and university achievements, and discussing some of the hurdles still ahead for UAF in the tough economic climate Alaska currently finds itself in.

“It doesn’t seem like there are twenty million dollars of fewer things going on,” White said. “What it tells me is there is a lot of you, that are juggling a lot more balls, I think one of the things we need to learn to do is to set a ball down.”

White highlighted some of UAF’s outstanding students and professors, among them being students from the UAF rifle team, the school of management, and the college of engineering and mines. He thanked the promoted and tenured faculty for their invaluable contributions and commitment to the university.

“We at the university are much more than the sum of our parts, but I would like to take a few minutes to celebrate some of those parts,” White said. “Thank you for your commitment. The fact that you were promoted or tenured, or both, this year is a demonstration of you commitment to UAF and we all benefit from that, thank you for that.”

White went on to praise many other students and faculty that were helping to contribute to the university and Alaska’s economy, however many of the cited programs and businesses had been created and supported prior to White’s induction as chancellor. While White highlighted the university’s past and current accomplishments, the chancellor’s speech failed to provide a detailed path forward during these uncertain times. Reassuring the students and staff that the university will continue to be innovative and creative in it’s solutions.

“These jobs have given me the opportunity to look at and see new challenges, to address challenges, but most important to me, they have given me an opportunity to work with people,” White said. “I love this university, and have really spent my whole career here.”

Chancellor White has had a long career at the university, he started back in 1995 and has held many positions, including, associate professor of civil engineering, director of the Institute of Northern Engineering, UAF associate vice chancellor for research, and head of the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization. It is his belief that these positions can help in the challenging times facing the university.

Matt Mertes

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