Two finalists chosen for director position at Northwest Campus
Bob Metcalf is retiring from his position as Director of the Northwest Campus and the process of selecting a new director is drawing to a close. The two finalists are Dr. Barb Amarok and Miranda Musich, both long-time Nome educators. The incoming director will be selected by a hiring committee made up of Northwest Campus staff, members of the community and the director from another rural campus. Both candidates have been thoroughly vetted, questioned and interviewed. Each made a presentation on Wednesday, May 29 and those presentations and the feedback citizens give in response to them will be taken into consideration by the hiring committee. The hiring committee will recommend a candidate to UAF Vice Chancellor Evon Peter and he will in turn make a recommendation to the Chancellor of the University, who will make the final choice.
Dr. Barb QasuGlana Amarok was born in Nome the daughter of Mary Ann Amarok Tiffany and Warren I. Tiffany. She attended her first year of school in Nome and then her father’s career took the family elsewhere. After earning her Bachelor’s degree she returned to Nome a teacher and for over thirty years worked in the fields of adult education, cultural education, secondary education administration and university level education. While working she earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and her PhD in Indigenous Education. She has served on the Nome Public Schools Board of Education since 2010 and has served three years as school board president. She is also an active member of the UA College of Education Advisory Council, the Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research on Resiliency and the Nome Public Schools Equity Committee. In 2018 she travelled to Nuuk, Greenland and contributed to the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Inuit Education Summit Outcomes Document. Since 2011 she has taught UAF ED 420, Alaska Native Education, a course for Bering Strait region educators. In 2015 she received the Alaska Federation of Natives Educator of the Year award.
In her presentation Dr. Amarok began “I belong to a family which is passionate about education.” She described how the region has two strong educational systems, both valid and of value to everyone. On the traditional side the purpose is to maintain identity and life ways and to prepare young people for adult life. And then there is today’s system of institutions, or schools, with the same purpose. “Both systems provide opportunities for teaching and learning valuable knowledge and skills and when they are blended into a unified whole can be most effective and beneficial,” she said. She told how her parents represented the two systems. Her Inupiaq mother’s strengths were her fluency in the language, he skills at sewing and skin sewing, and her exemplification of Native values. Her father’s strengths were his passion for reading and working with the formal schooling system.
She talked of feeling uncomfortable in school as a child, like an outsider. When she herself became a teacher she remembered those feelings and tried to make every child feel like a part of things. “When educators graduate from university and come to our region, they need further knowledge and skills to serve our communities most effectively,” she said. She has been working on a cultural competency credential with other educators in the region. It will include the study of regional languages, Alaska literature including works by Alaskan and Alaska Native writers, the history of schooling in Alaska, regional mammals and food security, regional fish and food security, and other local cultural areas such as clothing and dance.
“Success with the Northwest Campus mission and vision requires partnership,” Dr. Amarok said.
Miranda Musich grew up in Nome and is a Nome-Beltz graduate. After high school she lived in Texas, Georgia and Germany, returning to Nome in 2002. She worked at the Bering Sea Women’s Group and then joined the staff at the Northwest Campus, working in the Instructional Services Department. She lived on the road system for a while and was a dispatcher for the Alaska State Troopers. She then returned to Nome to work as a correctional officer at Anvil Mountain Correctional Center. She went back to Northwest Campus as a student services advisor. Her husband’s military service took them to Fairbanks for a year and then she returned to Nome to resume her old position at campus. She moved to the applied business faculty and works with students in those areas. She has AA degrees in general studies and psychology, dual Bachelor degrees in Criminal Justice and Business, a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership. She is working on a PhD in Business Administration.
In her presentation she described her creation of the campus credentials to provide students with marketable workplace skills. She likes to teach dual credit courses, which enable high school students to take college courses with also count toward their high school diploma.
“There’s a lot of things we do really well that I want to continue to expand on,” she said. “I want to continue working on cohort groups. It’s been very successful with not only my applied business students but also with construction students.”
“I would like to continue creating relevant campus credentials. If an employer identifies a specific need we can create a credential that can be put on a resume that means that need has been met,” she said. She wants to continue to offer culturally relevant courses in Nome and she wants to improve efficiency. She would like to see more collaboration with other campuses.
“I know we are not big on the idea of having Northwest Campus run dorms,” she said. “But if there is a way we could work with partners to where we could provide some sort of housing for faculty and students.” She gave as an example the cost of staying at the hotel in Kotzebue and how it limits the time she can spend there. With a place for visiting faculty to stay, more subjects could be offered by bringing in visiting faculty.
“We’re in a great position right now,” she said. “The campus is just in a great spot. We have these beautiful new buildings, office space, classroom space that we didn’t have before. It’s much more efficient and we have great partnerships and the things they bring in.”