Friday Focus: Putting the energy and power into UAF’s fourth goal

Gwen Holdmann, associate vice chancellor for research, and Nettie La Belle-Hamer, vice chancellor for research
Photo by Jessica Ramos
Gwen Holdmann, associate vice chancellor for research, and Nettie La Belle-Hamer, vice chancellor for research.

June 3, 2022

— By Nettie La Belle-Hamer, vice chancellor for research

We learned from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that making goals can be difficult. However, we learn every day that working toward those goals through the daily grind is the real challenge. To remain focused and determined through setbacks and disappointments it takes more than just a strong belief in the goal – it takes a champion.

At UAF we have champions throughout the organization. As leaders, it is our responsibility to find them and remove as many barriers to their success as possible. Gwen Holdmann is one such champion. Together with the then-director of the Institute of Northern Engineering (you may have heard of him; his name is Dan White), she founded the Alaska Center for Energy and Power and, until very recently, was its director. I am pleased Gwen Holdmann has agreed to serve as UAF’s associate vice chancellor for research focused on innovation and industry partnerships.

Details about the VCR’s innovation and industry partnerships team and how you can be involved will be coming out through other articles in the Cornerstone. So, stay tuned. But, today’s focus is about Goal 4: Transform UAF's intellectual property development and commercialization enterprise and the team that will lead UAF in meeting it.

UAF’s Strategic Plan 2027 defines six visionary and aspirational goals. To transform is to make a thorough or dramatic change, making this into a big, hairy, audacious goal, or BHAG, as Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras explain in their book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” My favorite kind of goal! We are not trying to maintain, sustain, or even improve. We are instead challenged to transform the enterprise. Challenge accepted.

To rise to this challenge, we need to give Goal 4 the energy and power it needs to transform. The vision calls for UAF to be a driving force in Alaska’s innovative economy, to produce graduates with an entrepreneurial mindset, and to create an innovative culture at UAF and in the greater community. To deliver economic, societal, cultural, and educational impact to the people of Fairbanks, the state of Alaska, and the circumpolar North requires focused, sustained effort toward the goal every day. That’s what champions do. 

The very first step is to build a team of motivated people who believe in the goal. The VCR innovation and industry partnerships team comprises the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization, Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship, and Alaska Blue Economy Center led by AVCR Holdmann. By bringing these innovative people together we create a cohort of driven entrepreneurs who will indeed transform the UAF’s IP and commercialization enterprise. While these efforts are not new to UAF, we are infusing new energy by bringing them together. As this team builds its transformation plan, more changes may come. I believe we should be open to that and am excited to see what this team brings to UAF.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Given that Heraclitus was a pioneer of wisdom who lived around 500 B.C.E., it is astonishing that centuries later his view remains true. As it should.

Each of us has within us the energy and power to make transformations happen at many levels. When you chose UAF, you chose to transform yourself into what you aspire to be. As you work to make that transformation happen, I invite you to become involved in the UAF community, find what inspires you, lean in and make some change! I’m excited to see what you can accomplish once you decide that you are just the champion we have been waiting for.

I thank you in advance for rising to the challenge and being a UAF champion! 

Friday Focus is written by a different member of UAF’s leadership team every week.