New University of Alaska Chancellor Aparna Palmer speaks to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon Thursday afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

New University of Alaska Chancellor Aparna Palmer speaks to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon Thursday afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

New UAS chancellor talks student access, visibility ahead of semester start

Aparna Palmer shared her goals with the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

New students won’t be the only fresh faces at the University of Alaska Southeast’s campuses in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan for the first day of the 2023 school year just a few weeks away — its chancellor will be too.

Chancellor Aparna Palmer officially began her position in July after being selected by University of Alaska President Pat Pitney in March. She took over the role from former Chancellor Karen Carey who retired at the end of June after three years in the position.

Despite her freshness to the position and as a resident of Juneau, Palmer says she has big ambitions. She shared some of her goals with community leaders as part of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Thursday afternoon.

“I want us to be a leader in offering a great education in a wide variety of disciplines to our students and I want to increase that access,” she said. “My dream for us is to have even more students come and enjoy what we have to offer — I really believe in us.”

Palmer said steps to get there mean increasing access and emphasizing completion at the university, along with strengthening and growing connections and partnerships in Alaska communities.

“Access goes with completion — so we want students to come in, but we also want them to achieve their dreams,” she said. “We want them to feel like at the end of their educational journey they have something really valuable that they can take to wherever they go next — and going into the workforce in Alaska is really important.”

Palmer said she also hopes to strengthen the visibility of the campus to students beyond Alaska and move past the connotation that UAS is a “hidden gem.”

“Now there’s nothing wrong with being a hidden gem, I just think that I want us to be a visible sparkling gem not only in the region, not only the state of Alaska, the nation, but in the world,” she said.

Before her taking over the position at UAS, Palmer served as vice president of Front Range Community College in Colorado. Before that, she was a professor of biology for more than a decade and was the assistant vice president for academic affairs at Colorado Mesa University.

The first day of instruction at UAS is set to begin Aug. 28.

• Contact Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651) 528-1807.

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