UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell of Alaska Joins WICHE Commission

  • Year Published : 2023
  • Month Published : June

BOULDER, Colo. – Sean Parnell, chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), has been selected to represent Alaska on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Since his appointment as chancellor of UAA, Parnell has advanced the institution’s role as the state’s largest workforce provider, and the flagship university for health and Arctic public policy. Under his leadership, UAA has pursued key initiatives focused on affordability, student success, and positioning UAA as a trusted community partner.

“I am a firm believer that higher education positions students for meaningful work and lives,” Parnell said. “I have seen how UAA has created these opportunities for Alaskans and am excited by the possibilities and contributions WICHE fosters across the West.”

Prior to becoming chancellor, Parnell was an attorney practicing law in Alaska for 25 years. He previously served in the Alaska State Legislature, was elected lieutenant governor in 2006, and as the 10th governor of Alaska from 2009-2014. In these roles, Parnell expanded funding for education, helped combat domestic violence and sexual assault, and led in creating an economic environment that lifted Alaska to record economic prosperity and employment.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, WICHE is one of four higher education interstate compacts in the United States and aims to strengthen higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the West. Parnell joins 48 commissioners from the 15 Western states and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States to guide WICHE’s direction and assures the Western Regional Education Compact is carried out for the benefit of the West as it has done since 1953.

“Chancellor Parnell’s extensive background in government and postsecondary education make him a great fit for the Commission and we will certainly benefit from his expertise,” said Demarée Michelau, WICHE president. “I look forward to hearing his perspective on issues we’re facing in the region and collaborating on solutions.”

Parnell is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University with a bachelor’s degree of business administration and earned his juris doctor degree from Seattle University School of Law.

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