New chancellor to fill vacancy

Dan White, who accepted the position of chancellor, taking over for previous Interim Chancellor Dana Thomas on July 1, is UAF’s fourth chancellor in as many years.

The selection committee went through a pool of twenty-four candidates from around the country. UA President Jim Johnsen said, “The choice was clear.”

White “stood out” among several highly qualified candidates and, according to Johnsen, after a rigorous round of public forums and meetings with faculty, staff, and students. White, who is coming into his chancellorship amongst several issues the university is currently facing, has a positive outlook on those challenges.

“It is my opinion that, UAF, has been, is, and will continue to be a great university, I think right now, we have a challenge in our state, with a state budget uncertainty,” White continued, “It is my opinion that UAF, as a great university, has opportunity and I think one of our challenges is to be innovative, and to help create, through our research and teaching, a contribution to the Alaska economy, budget uncertainty doesn’t define us, we define ourselves.”

White expressed concern over the fact that the cuts to the university and the UA system, as a whole, have been large, and have happened in a relatively short period of time.

“One of our challenges is that the drops in the states budget each year, for us [UA], has all happened relatively quickly,” White said. “It is hard for a university which has long term employees and long term commitments, to adjust quickly, but we are adjusting.”

White expressed his ideas about how to help the university continue to grow amid the budget shortfalls. White, who headed the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization since 2010, believes the answer to these budgetary issues is to create and bolster a “business ecosystem” around the university. The university currently has several small businesses, either owned or started by faculty and staff, that the chancellor hopes can breath new life into UAF.

“Small businesses make their money by capturing innovations in technology and manufacturing, they are able to use their edge, by licensing a technology, to make money. We need our companies to have an advantage in competing in the marketplace,” White said. “Other research universities have an ecosystem, a business ecosystem, around them of businesses that are looking for that technology, we don’t, and we need to create that.”

White has served in several positions at UAF, including, director of the Institute of Northern Engineering, UAF associate vice chancellor for research, head of the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization, and interim vice chancellor for research. White has been a resident of Fairbanks, since 1995. Prior to 1995, White taught at the university as an associate professor of engineering while he worked on his PhD in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

On September 12, Chancellor White will welcome students to a new academic year, at the Davis Concert Hall from 1-2p.m. as part of the 2017 convocation. During his speech he will lay out in more detail some of these issues and solutions to them. More information on Chancellor White’s convocation can be found on UAF’s Facebook page.

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