Former Gov. Sean Parnell will serve as the next chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage, UA President Pat Pitney announced Wednesday.
“Sean brings passion for our mission, a deep commitment to Alaska and a desire for all Alaskans to have access to higher education,” Pitney said in a statement. “He understands the range of issues facing UAA and has proven skills in diversifying and generating revenue. He will help stabilize our budget through building UAA’s reputation and expanding enrollment and fundraising.”
Parnell is an attorney in the Anchorage office of Holland & Hart LLP, and has 25 years in the active practice of law, according to UA. Parnell was elected to two terms in the Alaska House of Representatives, serving from 1992-1996, and in the Alaska Senate from 1996-2000. In 2006, he was elected lieutenant governor and served as governor of Alaska from 2009 to 2014.
Parnell is not a graduate of the UA system, according to the release, but attended Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Puget Sound School of Law, now known as Seattle University School of Law.
“I look forward to working with the exemplary faculty — the backbone of any university — and to supporting our students by clearing more paths of opportunity for them,” Parnell said in the release. “I am honored to be appointed as chancellor of such a dynamic university and I am committed to UAA, the UA system and to Alaskans.”
Parnell succeeds UAA Interim Chancellor Bruce Schultz and will assume his new position on June 12, 2021, according to the university.
Parnell was selected through a recruitment process led by a search committee consisting of UAA faculty, staff, students and Anchorage community members, according to UA. Eight finalists were invited to visit the Anchorage campus and candidates also met with Pitney for a series of interviews. Among the criteria for selecting the next chancellor was a demonstrated deep commitment to Alaska and the stability and success of the university, the university said.
The UA system has reduced its budget by $70 million over three years per an agreement with Gov. Mike Dunleavy and disruptions from the pandemic caused further losses. But at a UA Regents meeting in January, Pitney expressed optimism for the system which she said had stabilized from those cuts.
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