UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen takes new job in California

A portrait of University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Cathy Sandeen.
Cathy Sandeen took over the job as chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage in September 2018. Her departure from the job was announced Oct. 29, 2020. (UAA photo)

University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Cathy Sandeen announced Thursday that she has taken a new job as the president of California State University, East Bay.

The news of her departure comes about two years after Sandeen became the leader of Alaska’s largest public university. She led UAA through a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, deep budget cuts, accreditation issues and the pandemic.

Her last official day at UAA will be Jan. 3, 2021, according to a statement from the university. 

In an email Thursday to UAA students and employees, Sandeen said she had mixed emotions about leaving the university.

“While I am sad to leave the University of Alaska Anchorage and my friends and colleagues,” she said, “I am excited to take on a new challenge at another public, open-access, urban-metropolitan university very similar to UAA — one that is just miles from where I grew up and close to my family.” 

Sandeen’s decision to leave UAA is the latest shakeup in leadership at the University of Alaska system, which continues to wrestle with financial challenges driven by cuts to its state funding, declining enrollment and costs tied to the pandemic.

In June, Jim Johnsen resigned as president of the university system amid blow back from a job search. The head of the University of Alaska Southeast also retired this summer. Both positions are currently filled by interim leaders.

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Sandeen said Interim UA President Pat Pitney will name an interim chancellor for UAA in the next few weeks.

“I will work closely with her and UAA cabinet members to ensure a smooth transition,” she said.

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447.