Rick Caulfield to take the reins of UAS on June 1

On the first of June, the University of Alaska Southeast will have a new chancellor. Rick Caulfield will replace outgoing chancellor John Pugh, who announced his retirement last October.

Rick Caulfield (Photo courtesy Rick Caulfield)
Rick Caulfield (Photo courtesy Rick Caulfield)

Rick Caulfield has been UAS’s provost, or chief academic officer, for the past five years. Prior to that, he was a professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks for about 20 years. He started out in the UA System as an instructor at UAF’s Bristol Bay campus in 1985.

As chancellor, Caulfield says his biggest challenge will be dealing with budget cuts.

“At this point, we’re still uncertain about the exact dollar amount that will impact UAS. We think it’ll be something like $2.3 million,” Caulfield says.

The school’s total budget is $59 million.

Across the three UAS campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, there are about 110 full-time faculty and 220 staff members. Caulfield says, due to the unfinished state budget, he doesn’t know how many positions the college will cut.

“But I would say, at the same time, we’re looking at ways to generate new revenue, whether it’s federal funding, grant opportunities or ways of attracting more students to our programs,” Caulfield says.

He hopes to build up UAS online degree programs. He wants to attract Alaskans who never completed college but want to. UAS has about 3,000 students, most are part-time.

Caulfield says he also hopes to expand the college’s programs in Northwest Coast art. UAS worked with Sealaska Heritage Institute to submit a federal grant proposal for $2.3 million.

Caulfield says he intends to maintain John Pugh’s legacy of focusing efforts on students who aren’t traditional students — people who work and have families while taking classes.

“He deeply cares about student success. He deeply cares about engaging with students and encouraging them in their education and my hope is to continue that practice of showing how at UAS we really care about the success of our students,” Caulfield says.

Caulfield is originally from California but just celebrated his 40th year in the state. He came to Alaska in 1975 and later married his wife Annie in Gustavus. He earned his doctorate in the United Kingdom in 1994 based on research on aboriginal subsistence whaling in Greenland and the Arctic.