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Finalists selected for museum director position

Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: 907-474-6941

09/29/08

A former National Science Foundation program director and two current museum directors are the finalists to replace Aldona Jonaitis as the director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North when she retires later this year. An 11-member search committee consisting of senior museum staff, university representatives and community members began the national search in April. The committee recently narrowed the field to the three finalists.

"We had an excellent pool of candidates to review and expect that the three candidates will be exciting potential directors that can continue to build and strengthen the museum," says Michael Castellini, search committee chair and associate dean of UAF's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Meredith Lane is a private consultant and was most recently the public and scientific liaison for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. Previously, she served as the senior vice president for science at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, curator-in-charge of the botany division at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Institute, and program director for research collections in systematics and ecology at the National Science Foundation. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in botany, both from Arizona State University, and a doctorate in botany from the University of Texas at Austin.

Frederick Sheldon is the director of the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Sciences and serves as a professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences. He was previously the associate curator of birds at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He holds a bachelor's degree in geology and geophysics from Yale University and a master's degree and doctorate in biology, also from Yale.

Shelby Tisdale is the director of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, N.M. She was previously the executive director of the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, N.M. and the curator of Native American and non-Western art at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Okla. She holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a master's in anthropology from the University of Washington and a doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Arizona.

Each of the finalists will visit Fairbanks for on-site interviews, including a public presentation that will be open to all community members. The public presentations will be posted to the museum's online events calendar (www.uaf.edu/museum/calendar) as they are scheduled.

"The committee is looking forward to meeting the applicants in person here in Fairbanks when they visit," says Castellini. "Each brings strengths to the position and yet they are extremely diverse in their histories and museum expertise."

After 14 years at the museum, Jonaitis plans to retire at the end of the year. However, she will remain on staff until the transition to the new director is complete. Her tenure at the museum has been marked by dramatic growth, both in facilities and in programs.

CONTACT: Kerynn Fisher, University of Alaska Museum of the North communications coordinator, at 907-474-6941 or 907-378-2559.