University director of Student Services retires

Replacement to be Jessie Grant, who starts Aug. 1

Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2009

After serving as Director of Student Services at the University of Alaska Southeast for 24 years, Tish Griffin Satre retired on July 1.

There was a retirement party for Satre on Saturday at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, coupled with a silent auction fundraiser for the Cancer Connection and live music from One Aisle Over.

Satre came to Alaska from the University of Washington in 1985, seeking a job at one of the new campuses in Anchorage and Juneau.

"My boss was the consultant of the facilities being developed in Anchorage and in Juneau," she said. "He told me to go and interview at both of the campuses. He said to me, 'Go North, young woman, to the land of opportunity!' And I did. I came up here and just fell in love with Juneau."

Even though she wasn't expecting to be in Juneau as long as she was, Satre's first impression of working at UAS was unforgettable.

"When I got here in 1985, I thought I'd be here for six months," Satre said. "There was just so much to do. We were opening housing, but housing wasn't ready to open, so we were renting the Super 8 motel. It was just 'Oh my god! How are we going to feed them?' It was an amazing start."

For Satre, working at UAS and starting the Student Services program was the experience of a lifetime.

"When you get to start a program from the beginning, it's really like you are giving birth to something," she said. "It was pretty cool, starting some of the things like Winter Fest and the Polar Bear Plunge and those university traditions. It's fun to be part of a growing institution and be able to bring that kind of fun stuff here."

Satre has witnessed many important events in the history of UAS.

"I was here before the library and the pavilion were built and there were only mud parking lots," Satre reminisced.

Satre has pictures of events such as the totem-pole raising 15 years ago, the opening of Banfield Hall in 1996 and the first dance she organized before the Egan Library opened in 1989.

"We put the band on top of the study rooms," Satre said. "It was the best."

Satre's job is similar to the Dean of Students job on other campuses. She oversees multiple departments and most of the events that are a part of student life. She manages budgetary matters for programs that run on student fees such as housing, food services and student government as well as judiciary matters involving the student code of conduct.

Satre was a hands-on administrator who practiced, as she said, "if you see a need, you try to help fill it." Satre was involved with everything from the student handbook and orientation, bubblenet, an online social networking site for students; and the GPS program, which matches freshmen with professors in the role of guides.

Enjoying life and visiting her children and grandchildren are in the future plans for Satre and her husband, both of whom have had bouts with cancer.

"There is a part of facing your own mortality," she said. "I'm a cancer survivor. I've had three cancers and 14 reoccurrences. My husband faced cancer this past year and we both decided to grab the brass ring a little earlier, while we are both still healthy enough to enjoy it. I think we've got our priorities straight. Priorities are family, really keeping tabs on your health, and helping my mom as she is in retirement. I don't think I'm going to get an award for working, so I plan to have some fun."

Satre will be replaced with Jessie Grant, who has a doctorate in education leadership. Satre describes Grant as very talented, qualified and all about relationships. Grant starts Aug. 1.

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