Meet Dr. Karen Carey, the new University of Alaska Southeast provost, who was announced last week after a year long, national search. She replaces former provost Rick Caulfield, who now serves as the UAS Chancellor.
Carey comes to the job with experience in administration. While she earned her Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Cincinnati and taught for a time, she became the Dean of Arts and Sciences at California State University Channel Islands, in Ventura. She was responsible for student learning as well as managing academic programs with more than 200 faculty.
At UAS she will work with faculty to support the teaching, research and service missions of UAS, and serve as the academic liaison with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and University to maintain UAS’ accreditation.
Despite the busyness of settling in and learning the ropes of a new state and university system, Carey took some time to answer questions from the Empire about her new role at UAS.
What made you pursue positions in administration within universities? Was it something you were interested in when you first started college? If not, what changed?
I began my career in higher education as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Fresno, and loved being in the classroom and working closely with students. After several years I was asked to serve as Department Chair by other faculty members in the department and found I enjoyed administration and serving the greater university-wide system. While I still have a passion for being in the classroom, I enjoy being able to make a difference in the lives of faculty, staff and students across campus.
What does a day at the office look like for you? What are the issues you handle and how does that develop throughout the year?
I like to get to the office early and get ready for each day. Being new to the position and new to Alaska, I am spending my time attending and listening at meetings and reading many documents about the university. I will be working closely with faculty, staff and students in all three UAS campuses as well as the greater Southeast Alaska communities.
While you served as Dean of Arts & Sciences at the California State University Channel Islands, the school faced severe budget cuts due to the 2008 recession. How did that experience prepare you as provost for Alaska’s fiscal crisis and the resulting budget cuts to the University of Alaska system?
Budget cuts are demoralizing for everyone involved and can have a detrimental long-term impact on a university campus. In 2008, I was Dean of Graduate Studies at CSU Fresno and my main goal was to preserve positions and programs. I carefully examined the graduate studies budget and looked for projects that we could put on hold until the fiscal circumstances changed.
How will your position as the UAS provost be different from when Chancellor Rick Caulfield filled the position? Has the range of duties expanded due to the budget cuts?
I will be involved in accreditation, statewide Strategic Pathways discussions, advancing UAS academic programs, faculty promotion and tenure processes, academic program reviews as well as many other duties. The challenge for the university will be trying to do more with less and making sure we do not lose sight of our mission. In my experience, when fiscal resources are restricted everyone’s duties have to expand.
Has anything in Alaska surprised you, or has anything happened that defied your expectations, whether in or out of the workplace?
Southeast Alaska is beautiful and I love how the sky changes throughout the day. My husband and I are delighted to be here! I think what has defied my expectations is how friendly everyone is in Southeast Alaska and all the help we have received since being new to the area.
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