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Alaska university chancellor accepts new job in California

Last Updated Oct 30, 2020 at 6:32 am PST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage has announced that she plans to take a new position as the president of a California university.

Chancellor Cathy Sandeen said Thursday she accepted an offer to become president of California State University, East Bay.

Sandeen was appointed to the top position at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2018. The university said her last day will be Jan. 3.

She took over before a magnitude 7.1 earthquake damaged the Anchorage campus and as the University of Alaska system began to deal with a steeply declining budget leading to numerous program cuts.

The university recently announced plans to eliminate the hockey team and other sports unless it can raise enough money to cover operating expenses.

Sandeen will replace Leroy Morishita, the retiring president of California State University’s East Bay campus in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Hayward.

Sandeen said in an email Thursday to students and employees that she was leaving to be closer to family in California at “another public, open-access, urban-metropolitan university very similar to UAA.”

“We have accomplished much together and I am proud of how we withstood so many challenges — from earthquakes and financial exigency to program reviews and now a global pandemic,” Sandeen wrote. “UAA is a stronger and more stable university based on the ingenuity and collaboration of all members of our community.”

An interim chancellor will be appointed in the next few weeks by Pat Pitney, interim president of the University of Alaska system.

Sandeen’s decision to leave marks the third high-level departure from Alaska’s university system this year.

Jim Johnsen resigned as system president in June following criticism resulting from interviews for a post in Wisconsin.

Rick Caulfield, the head of the University of Alaska Southeast, retired this summer.

The Associated Press