Dr. Steve Atwater selected as Executive Dean to lead new Alaska College of Education

Following a national search, Dr. Steve Atwater has been selected as Executive Dean of new Alaska College of Education (AKCOE) at the University of Alaska Southeast. Atwater begins his new position on July 1, 2018. He will have direct administrative responsibility for Education programs at UAS along with statewide responsibility for enhancing coordination and alignment of all UA Education programs and expanding partnerships with K-12 districts and education leaders across the state.

The selection of executive dean represents a major milestone in UA’s plan to greatly increase its preparation of quality Alaskan teachers, principals, and superintendents. Currently Alaska imports nearly two-thirds of all new teachers hired each year. The UA Board of Regents last year asked UAS to lead in meeting this goal.

UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield expressed confidence that Atwater is the right person to lead the effort: “Dr. Atwater brings experience and insights that are particularly valuable for the university in this time of change. His dedication to teacher excellence is unquestioned and he has a wealth of teaching and leadership experience in both rural and urban schools in Alaska. It’s rare to find someone who has this distinctive array of skills, talents, and experience.”

UA President Jim Johnsen also expressed his pleasure at having such a capable leader who can contribute to expanding a culture of education in Alaska. “We’re very fortunate to have a person of Steve’s caliber to lead our effort to strengthen our teacher education efforts,” he said.

Atwater will be based in Juneau but will travel extensively to work with university leaders, faculty, and staff across the entire state. In addition to the new Alaska College of Education at UAS, UAA and UAF will continue to provide high quality teacher preparation and other education programs at their respective campuses. They will be led by directors who, together with faculty from all three universities, will make up the new UA Teacher Education Council. The council’s charge includes making recommendations about greater coordination, alignment, and innovation in preparing new teachers, principals, and superintendents.

Atwater earned his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Alaska. He began his Alaska career as a teacher in predominantly Alaska Native communities in western Alaska, and went on to become superintendent at both Lake and Peninsula School District and at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. He was recognized as Alaska’s Superintendent of the Year in 2013. Most recently he has served as Interim Dean of the UAF School of Education.

For more about the new Alaska College of Education, go to: www.uas.alaska.edu/chancellor/alaska-college-of-education.html

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