Karen Carey is officially the next chancellor of the University of Alaska Southeast, the university announced Wednesday. Carey has been serving as interim chancellor since June when the previous chancellor Rick Caulfield retired.
“I was really shocked because I thought we were going to do this big search next summer,” Carey said Friday in a phone interview with the Empire. “I’m really excited about it. I love Juneau, I love UAS.”
Carey said University of Alaska President Pat Pitney asked her to take the job, and the focus for both UAS and the UA system is stability. There were still budget problems and uncertainty around future funding Carey said, but the school had planned its budget through Fiscal Year 2022 and is stable for now. However, there is still uncertainty around how much the Legislature would appropriate to the university.
“If indeed the Legislature honors the compact, and if we don’t have to take any more cuts, I think we can get to a stable place,” Carey said. “It all depends on what the Legislature intends to do.”
Right now, UAS is focused on keeping students, faculty and staff safe, Carey said. Most classes and work are being done remotely, she said, but some in-person classes had resumed under strict health guidelines. UAS’ dorms are about half as full as they normally would because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carey said, but the university is still trying to find ways to keep students engaged both virtually and in person.
“It’s been very difficult on everyone, we’re really concerned about our students’ mental health,” she said.
The university is trying to hold social events mainly online, but still had some in-person events like a walk around Auke Lake. UAS students have been good about following health protocols and informing staff when they’re feeling ill, Carey said.
Before coming to UAS in 2016, Carey served as dean of art and sciences at California State University Channel Islands, according to a statement from UA. Carey has Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Cincinnati. Pitney announced Carey’s appointment during a tele-town hall with students, faculty and staff on Nov. 11. Her permanent appointment to the position is effective immediately, according to UAS.
Despite the pandemic, Carey said, things were going well at the university. Pitney has said she intends to keep the three universities in the UA system separate, Carey said, and the school officials were already planning for future semesters. The school had been planning for this school year since March, she said, and university officials will begin planning for next fall in the spring.
“Southeast is a different place. We can educate our students and do it in a way that really provides in a different way,” she said. “I appreciate everything the communities of Southeast Alaska have done to support UAS. It’s greatly appreciated by all of us on campus.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.