Research Vessel Sikuliaq events in Seattle


Why were so many UAF administrative staff in attendance for the R/V Sikuliaq landing in Seattle recently?

This doesn’t seem to be a good use of university funds given the current fiscal climate, and especially in light of the “travel ban.”

To the general public, this appears to be quite wasteful and a “junket” trip.


Thank you for your question. On Aug. 16 in Seattle, the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences hosted nine tours of the Research Vessel Sikuliaq in which 166 people participated. A reception, paid for by the seafood industry’s At-sea Processors Association, followed at the Palisade Restaurant.

Out of the 60 university-related invitees, 16 university employees attended, including President Johnsen, Chancellor Thomas, Dean Moran, former Dean Vera Alexander and two regents. The president, chancellor, dean and dean emerita all spoke, six of the ten employees had a role in the tours and four had a specific role at the reception.

The Sikuliaq, owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by UAF, hosts research necessary to understand and manage Arctic and sub-Arctic marine ecosystems. The ship arrived in Alaska in 2015, but this was the first time the Sikuliaq has been available for tours in Seattle, where much of the North Pacific seafood industry is based. This was a significant event for UAF. It offered the first chance to publicly recognize many of the people involved in 40 years of advocacy and planning for the ship. The At-sea Processors Association is the university system’s second-largest private donor. At the reception, we recognized the association’s members, three other large donors, a dean emerita and a federal liaison who assisted greatly in acquiring the ship.

While in Seattle, some staff took the opportunity to prepare and collaborate with UA employees who also participated in the Sikuliaq business systems review being conducted by NSF. Others worked on developing relationships with future large donors. And some promoted the ship in the media.

Making the ship available for media visits, tours and receptions when in ports contributes to public understanding of the ocean through direct contact and news coverage. The contacts and coverage also reinforce UAF’s reputation as a leader in Arctic research, which benefits the institution when recruiting students and securing funding for scientific work.

In sum, this event had significant benefits for the university on multiple fronts. It was well worth the cost.

—Bradley Moran, dean, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences