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University of Alaska system president Mark Hamilton retires

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
May 30, 2010
Mark Hamilton has had what he calls “a seven-days-a-week job” for the past 43 years.

That will change June 10, his final day as president of the University of Alaska system. He’s held that post since 1998, when the Board of Regents made the unorthodox decision to hire a U.S. Army major general as the university’s new leader.

He’ll spend this summer cleaning his cabin in Soldotna and settling back into the home he and his wife, Patty, own in Anchorage.

A moose hunting trip probably is set for this fall, followed by whatever else he decides to pursue.

“I don’t know what that’s going to be, but I’m looking forward to it,” Hamilton, 65, said with a smile.

His departure will represent the end of an era at UA, where Hamilton frequently is credited with reviving a stagnant system.

“Mark is a lesson in leaving something better than you found it,” said Cynthia Henry, the chairwoman of the UA Board of Regents.

Henry and other leaders said Hamilton fundamentally changed UA. By taking a new leadership approach, Henry said he transformed a gloomy environment where enrollment was dipping, facilities were deteriorating and grants had dried up.

A 31-year military veteran, Hamilton didn’t arrive with a doctorate degree or much experience in higher education. He admits he went into the job with a limited idea of what he would encounter and joked that regents needed courage to “pick someone who was summarily unqualified” for the position.

“No, I didn’t know what I was in for,” he said, “but it was something that it turned out I was prepared for.”

At the end of his military career, Hamilton was in charge of U.S. Army recruiting. That global effort involved the oversight of about 12,000 employees and a $1 billion budget, he said. The mission of the UA system also is vast, covering a huge geographic area and offering everything from post-doctorate degrees to high-school equivalency tests.
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