With final grades submitted, tests completed, and students off on their summer adventures, we’re closing the book on the 2017-2018 academic year. But before we put the tome on the shelf, let’s take a quick look back on the learning, growing, and exploring the University and its community members undertook since last fall.
We welcomed new students, faculty, and staff
APU welcomed students from 15 states this year. Of the new to APU undergraduates, 76% were from Alaska. They came from Anchorage, Bethel, Chevak, Chugiak, Dillingham, Eagle River, Homer, JBER, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, Palmer, Seward, Talkeetna, Wasilla and Utqiaġvik.
New staff hires included Katie Baraki, Mariah Whitted, Erika Quade, Anastasia Tessandore, Angel Garcia, Robin Brooks, Clarice Conley, Steve Odom, Waverli Stowe, Rachel Fritz, Hannah Jensen, Rebekah Arnold, and Chandler Stroup. Many of those hires took on entirely new positions.
Professors Alexander Lee, Obed Nyaribo, and Jennifer Beathe joined the team and Hilton Hallock became Provost. Dr. Bob Onders officially transitioned from Interim President to President.
Joe and Martha Senungetuk were also welcomed as the inaugural Elder Artists-in-Residence.
New programs were launched
Starting in Fall 2018, students can begin taking classes towards a certificate in Alaska Rural Management and Community Health, as well as can enroll in the AK Bridge – RN to BSN program.
Institutes were established
The academic departments re-organized as three institutes: Culture and Environment, Business and Public Policy, and Health and Wellness. The goals of the institutes are four-fold: to develop, deliver, and ensure the integrity of academic programs, which form the fundamental outcomes of the Institutes; to advance inquiry and engagement related to community resilience, challenges, and opportunities; to realize pedagogy and instruction grounded in active, experiential, applied, place-based learning; and to serve Alaska’s peoples and communities, and assist students to achieve the best expression of their potential
Students gained knowledge and skills through hands-on curriculum each day
In Liberal Studies students wrote, produced, and directed two plays; they produced and edited APU’s literary work Turnagain Currents; and completed senior projects such as Cayley Eller’s “Food System Mapping as a Tool for Addressing Food Security in Alaska,” and Jonathon Singler’s “Chess in Academia: A Social Blunder & Educational Brilliancy.” Expedition Alaska continued its tradition of canoeing and rafting the Yukon River. Expedition Sea Kayaking spent three weeks in the Bahamas while Winter Wilderness skills got their Avalanche 1 credentials. The MS in Outdoor and Environmental Education students, based at our Kellogg Campus, continued to help run Field School. Marine and Environmental Science students continued to pump out applied research looking at Alaska’s many environmental questions. At the undergraduate level three students kayaked the Yukon River as part of their senior project research.
And that’s just to name a few.
Students worked on NASA Space Grant supported programs
A handful of students in MES and OS worked on projects funded by NASA. The latter saw two undergraduate students working on building, installing and maintaining a remote weather station and then analyzing the collected solar radiation data as a way to make more sense of how radiation impacts snowpack.
APU’s involvement with octopus made a big splash
The two peer-reviewed papers from Nathan Hollenbeck’s (B.S. Marine Biology, 2014) senior project received scads of media attention. The papers, titled “Body patterns of the frilled giant Pacific octopus, a new species of octopus from Prince William Sound, AK” and “Use of swabs for sampling epithelial cells for molecular genetics analyses in Enteroctopus” were discussed in publications ranging from Earther and Men’s Journal to Newsweek and International Business Times.
The work of Professor David Scheel and MSES alum Stephanie Chancellor also garnered national attention after the discovery of an octopus “city” off the eastern coast of Australia, a finding that suggests members of that species, Octopus tetricus, may not be as isolated and asocial as originally thought.
We gathered to learn from noted speakers and each other
The 2nd Annual Leah J. Peterson Speaker Series focused on “People-Powered Progress,” and invited Shannon Cosgrove and Dr. Jordan P. Lewis to speak, as well as hosted a Parlor in the Round.
The Cardinal Newman Chair hosted significant scholars who offered free public lectures, including Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J. the Director of the Vatican Osbservatory in Rome, Italy and Tucson and Dr. Amy-Jill Levine gave a free public lecture in Early Browne Theater.
This summer, from June 19-22, the Cardinal Newman Chair will host the 8th Midsummer Light Bible Institute that will feature Dr. Eilene Schuller, who is one of the translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Dr. Eloise Rosenblatt, who is an expert of the New Testament Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles.
APU Nordic Ski Center went for the gold
In a thrilling race, Kikkan Randall (APU ski team member) and teammate Jessie Diggins brought home the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the United States, winning the skate team sprint at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang,
South Korea. The win ended a 42-year U.S. cross country skiing medal drought and the first-ever medal for the U.S. women.
APU athlete Scott Patterson also scored the best-ever 50K finish by a U.S. male at the Olympic games, finishing 11th.
In a remarkable showing both on the World Cup circuit and at the 2018 U.S. National Championships in Anchorage in January, 10 athletes from the APU Nordic Ski Center qualified for the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang. Nine athletes from APU represented the U.S., while one represented Australia. Overall, APU team members claimed 11 of the 24 senior podium spots and eight of the 24 junior podium spots at the U.S. National Championships.
Students won impressive awards
Royanne Grafstrom-Westlund recently scored the opportunity to attend the Aquatic Animal Life Support Operators conference on a student scholarship following an exemplary score on the AALSO level one certification, in conjunction with her experiences in the aquarium lab.
Matthew Horner won the Outstanding Counseling Psychology Graduate Student award. APU’s faculty was especially impressed by his resilience, willingness, professionalism, and positive outlook in the presence of challenges. Additionally, Michael Reed, PsyD in Counseling Psychology, won a statewide professional association research award for his APU dissertation proposal.
IT made moves to better user experiences
From taming and utilizing the vast amount of data gathered daily to upgrading the ID system and improving bandwidth to expanding Office 365 services, it was a busy year for the Information Technology department.
A new mural was unveiled in Atwood Center
Haida artist Andrew Morrison created a six panel mural depicting ancient Native Alaskan masks on the first panel, followed by the five regions of Alaska and their cultural groups on subsequent panels.