Politics

Gov. Dunleavy appoints 4 to University of Alaska Board of Regents

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JUNEAU — Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced four appointees Monday to the University of Alaska Board of Regents, which is charged with managing the state’s university system.

The Alaska Legislature will decide during a joint session whether to confirm Dunleavy’s appointees to serve eight-year terms on the 11-member board. In the meantime, they will serve as members of the board, starting with a meeting next month with a yet-to-be-announced agenda.

Dunleavy’s four appointees include Bethany Marcum, CEO of the Alaska Policy Forum, a conservative free-market non-profit. The organization has long advocated for greater school choice, which would allow public funds to go towards private schools.

Marcum, who worked as a legislative aide for Dunleavy when he was a state senator, was appointed by the governor in 2021 to serve on the Alaska Redistricting Board. An Anchorage Superior Court judge said there was ample evidence that she and two other Republican board members -- John Binkley and Budd Simpson -- had engaged in “a secretive process” to unconstitutionally gerrymander the state’s political map.

Marcum did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Daily News on her appointment to the Board of Regents.

Dennis Michel, founder and president of American Mechanical, Inc., a general contracting company based out of Fairbanks, was pleased to learn when contacted by phone that his application to the board had been accepted. Michel said that he thinks the university system is “very important to the future of Alaska,” but he would need to review the university’s status before commenting on his ideas for its future.

A third appointee, Joey Crum, is the CEO of Northern Industrial Training, a private vocational school based out of Palmer. He is the brother of Adam Crum, commissioner-designee of the Department of Revenue. He was unavailable for comment on Monday.

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J. Scott Jepsen, has served on the board for the past two years, and has been reappointed by the governor to serve a full eight-year term. Jepsen, a retired oil and gas executive, served the remainder of the late Andy Teuber’s term after Teuber was accused of sexual harassment, and later died in a helicopter crash in 2021. Jepsen did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Dunleavy’s new appointees are set to replace three regents whose terms are expiring this year, all of whom were appointed by independent former Gov. Bill Walker. Sherri Buretta, John Davies and Lisa Parker all did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily News.

Three other board members predate Dunleavy. Kali Spencer, the student representative on the board, will finish her two-year term this year.

Democratic Sen. Löki Tobin, co-chair of the Senate Education Committee, said she was “very much looking forward to hearing more” about the governor’s new appointees, and that, “Obviously, there’s a few names that perked my ears.”

”I think it’s going to be interesting to hear their perspective, and their interest and particularly, what their vision is for public education in the state,” she said.

Other legislators declined to comment in detail on the governor’s names for the volunteer board, saying that they would wait to learn more about them during the confirmation process.

Dunleavy, who is starting his second four-year term, has a fifth regent to appoint after John Bania, a former principal and superintendent, resigned in 2021.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported there were no current members of the board from Southeast Alaska. Dale Anderson, a member of the board, is a lifelong Juneau resident.

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Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire is a politics and general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Juneau. He previously reported from Juneau for Alaska's News Source. Contact him at smaguire@adn.com.

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