Pitney’s first month featured outreach and engagement with the community

Monique Musick

President Pitney and Senator Murkowski
President Pitney and Senator Murkowski met at the Schaible House to discuss university matters. Photo by Monique Musick

Sept. 4, 2020

Eager to meet with as many people as possible, Interim UA President Pat Pitney made good use of her schedule during her first month on the job. Her efforts are part of a comprehensive 90-day plan to engage with the university and Alaska community, increase visibility and build relationships.

One message Pitney highlighted during each of these meetings is the key role the university plays in Alaska’s economic recovery, and its fundamental role in helping to build the state’s overall economy. She’s discussed the COVID-19 crisis, which has its many challenges, but also has provided a path for Alaskans out of work to turn to the university to retool for a new career or increase their skill set. While the ongoing budget reductions mean that UA must be smaller but stronger, she is focused on maintaining quality and committing to retaining the university’s core mission while creating a solid, defined and stable foundation for the university.

Pitney met individually with university leaders, regents, governance chairs, and union leaders, and on Aug. 4 she held a virtual Meet & Greet for the entire UA community. She’s addressed local and system governance groups and will engage in further university outreach in the coming weeks and months.

External to the university, she’s met with Mayors Weldon, Berkowitz, and Ward. Also on her calendar was a meeting with state Dept. of Education and Early Development Commissioner Michael Johnson, and she has meetings planned with the boards of the Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks Economic Development Corporations. She will hold additional meetings and attend events in the coming weeks with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, American Association of University Women, and Southeast Conference. 

On Aug. 17 she, along with Chancellor White, provided the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce an update on the university’s plans for the academic year under COVID 19 as well as the fiscal issues the system is and have been facing, and changes in leadership across the system. She also joined Chancellors White and Sandeen in meetings with Interior and Anchorage legislative delegations to discuss with lawmakers the regional needs and priorities of the university system.

On Aug. 24 Pitney and Sandeen were guests on Talk of Alaska where they discussed Pitney’s vision for the university, impacts of COVID-19, budget challenges, workforce development, enrollment, and took questions from callers from across Alaska.

On Aug. 28, Pitney sat down with Senator Murkowski at the Schaible House to discuss Pitney’s vision for the university, budget priorities, and impacts of COVID-19, as well as Federal priorities including CARES Act funding, the new Arctic Energy Office on the Fairbanks campus, and efforts underway to rectify the long-overdue Land Grant appropriation.

As the legislative session approaches she will be engaging with the Office of Management and Budget, Governor, legislators and others to advocate for a secure, solid future for the University of Alaska.