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Jan. 26, 2023

Dear UAF students, faculty and staff,

Last year, in an effort to identify improvements to academic and research functions and structure, I charged a task force to review the organization of the Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) and the Department of Biology and Wildlife (DBW). The goal of this task force was to study, explore, learn, and recommend possible organizational structures that may lead to a more robust enterprise for faculty, staff and students in life sciences. I asked the task force to address three questions:

  1. What challenges are posed by the current structure of IAB and CNSM (specifically Biology and Wildlife).

  2. What are structures that currently exist elsewhere (particularly in Tier 1 research universities) we might learn from?

  3. What are the two structural options for IAB and DBW to position the programs for growth and what may be gained or lost under the two models?

I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to Hajo Eiken, director, International Arctic Research Center for chairing this task force and for the task force members for their time and energy in compiling such a thorough, thoughtful report:

Diane Wagner, chair, Biology and Wildlife
Kristin O’Brien, Biochemistry and Fisheries
Todd Brinkman, Wildlife
Kelly Drew, Biomedicine
Lorrie Rea, Water & Environmental Research Center
Katrin Iken, CFOS/IMS
Matt Seymour, fiscal officer, CNSM
Carrie Stevens, Interior Alaska Campus
Tazia Wagner, graduate student

Two key options for IAB and DBW emerged from task force deliberations:

Option A: Establishing a College of Life Sciences that integrates IAB, DBW, and other life sciences into a single academic unit. Research centers, major projects, and facilities currently part of IAB would retain their identity in such a college, with an associate dean who may also serve as IAB director providing research oversight.

Option B: Enhancing current structures such that IAB and DBW retain their status as a research institute under the VCR and a department within the college, respectively, but with additional efforts to strengthen the position of the DBW chair and negotiating mechanisms for overhead revenue sharing.

Before we move forward with any option, I would like to solicit feedback specifically from faculty, staff and students in the life sciences as well as the broader campus community on the taskforce report. Your input is crucial in ensuring that we are addressing the needs and concerns of those immediately and peripherally affected.

If you would like to provide feedback on the Report on structural options for Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife please comment by Feb. 9 here

Thank you for choosing UAF. 

Dan White, chancellor


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