UAF, meet your new regents

By Elika Roohi

With the new year comes two new members to the UA Board of Regents.  Feb. 7 will be the end of outgoing regents Cynthia Henry’s and Erik Drygas’ terms.  The new regents, appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell, are Jyotsna “Jo” Heckman and Mike Powers, both Fairbanks residents.

The Board of Regents has considerable influence over the University of Alaska and its students, including the ability to raise tuition.

“They are a geographically diverse group of Alaskans who work closely with the president in advancing the vision and mission of the university,” Powers said.

Powers is currently the CEO of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital/Denali Center.  He has lived in Fairbanks for 25 years.

Regents work with the president and chancellors in the university system, setting policies that will best benefit the university, according to Powers.

“It is a duty of care and diligence,” Heckman said.

Heckman is also a resident of Fairbanks.  She is the president and CEO of Denali State Bank.  She was also the first female bank president in Alaska.

Both Heckman and Powers have been recognized as outstanding individuals in the Fairbanks community.  In 2008, the UAF School of Management and the UAF Associated Students of Business selected Heckman as the business leader of the year.  In 2010, the Boy Scouts of America recognized Powers as the Distinguished Person of the Year.

Heckman and Powers are mostly interested in playing catch up for the remainder of this school year.

Heckman said she would like to “understand her role and duties.”

At this point, Powers said he would “like to get up to speed on the workings of the university,” as well as take some time to understand the interests of Anchorage, Juneau, and other parts of the state.

“Now that I’m on the Board of Regents, the responsibility is truly statewide,” Powers said.

With the recent release of the Fisher Report, the Board of Regents is reviewing many aspects of the UA System.

“In my humble opinion, it is a tool for planning purposes as the Board moves forward in the strategic planning processes,” Heckman said about the report.

Powers said that he is currently working through the report, and that he believes that it holds some value.

Both Heckman and Powers have been appointed for an eight-year term, and have some ideas about what they want to accomplish during their respective terms.

“I think number one is develop a relationship with President Gamble,” Powers said. “It’s important to remember as a board member you are not interested in the details of running a university system.”

“I hope to be a contributing member on the board,” Heckman said.  “At this stage, it is premature to take a guess as to what aspects of service I may have to work on during my eight-year term.”

UAF, along with UAA and UAS, can hope for a happy future with these new regents, if Powers’ parting lines were any indication. “I believe the university really is the jewel of the state,” he said. “I think the University of Alaska is truly an economic engine, it trains and educates the work force, and it provides world class research.”

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