UAS Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Carol Griffin has announced her retirement after serving UAS for more than 30 years.
“I’ve been here so long I can hardly remember not being here,” Griffin said lightheartedly.
Griffin has seen UAS grow from a four-building campus with administrative offices in the Auke Bay Post Office building to the beautiful, successful campus it is today.
Starting at UAS in the early 1980s as a part time instructor of American government, she became a cornerstone in developing the UAS distance education program as director of outreach education and service.
“It was kind of the beginning of distance education as we know it now,” Griffin explained of the program in its early stages.
“I fell right into it and really loved it. I sent people from Juneau all over Southeast Alaska. The first time I (traveled in Southeast) I was terrified because I was out of my element, on a float plane, and it was raining and snowing, but I really loved it.”
Preferring to work behind the scenes, Griffin found her calling working in personnel, later becoming the vice chancellor of administrative services in 1999.
“I always wanted to be a person who helped other people make the best decisions,” Griffin explained.
“In all my career plans, I had planned to be the kind of person who was a staffer, (who) helped other people do what they needed to do.”
The first person in her family to get a college education — receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree from Lewis-Clark State University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Idaho — Griffin understands the value of education and has been dedicated to seeing UAS thrive as an educational institution.
“People all thought alike,” Griffin said of her experience growing up in her small hometown, “so when I got on a university campus, it changed the way I saw the world because I could see room for other things (besides) what I learned as a young person. That was a really wonderful opportunity for me, (and it makes me) feel so committed to education.”
Griffin said she believes UAS is becoming a thriving educational institution, led by dedicated people like Chancellor John Pugh, who have their eyes to the future.
“John Pugh is a visionary man and he really has a vision of this institution,” Griffin said of the chancellor’s plans for UAS.
“About four years ago he began to articulate his vision that this campus, in order to grow and be sustainable, needs to have a thousand full-time students — freshmen through seniors — who are here to sit in the seats and participate in the dialogue that occurs between students and faculty to help build that community to sustain this organization,” she said.
“I think we’re now beginning to shape the building block with more freshmen and better retention.”
“Chancellor Pugh, as a leader, is looking beyond the time period he would be here, looking into the future and planning for the future,” Griffin said.
With confidence that the institution is moving in the direction of success, Griffin can look back at the life and career she has had at UAS, and enjoy the changes that retirement will bring.
“I’ve had (a) lot of opportunities here,” she said. “I can’t say enough about what a wonderful thing it’s been as a career to progress through an organization; to know and understand the organization. I think we’re really changing and I’m so thrilled about it because we’re really becoming what I would consider the university we want to be.”
UAS has provided Griffin with more than just a career, but opportunities, experiences, and friendships she will deeply miss. In a letter to colleagues, Griffin wrote that UAS changes lives.
“UAS is more than a place, far beyond a destination — it must be measured by transformed lives; it is a co-mingling of hearts and minds of those who work here and those who learn here.”
“I will be sad because I’m leaving friends and colleagues,” Griffin said, “but I’m not leaving without a passion for this place because it has been so good to me.”
“It will be different,” Griffin agreed about retirement. “But I’m excited because it’s a new adventure.”
Griffin plans to move to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to be closer to her family and spend time with her grandchildren.