Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday appointed a Fairbanks Republican political activist and business owner to the University of Alaska Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s public universities.
Seth Church, who does not have a university degree, will serve an eight-year term subject to legislative confirmation.
Church is president of Alaska Policy Partners, a group that sent attack mailers against moderate Republican and Democratic candidates ahead of the 2022 election. Church contributed $12,500 to the group days before the election last year. Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor headlines a $15,000-a-head fundraiser for the advocacy arm of the group later this month.
Alaska Policy Partners is registered with the state both as an independent expenditure group and as an advocacy organization, and with the Federal Election Commission as a political action committee. Asked if he is president of all three, Church said he doesn’t “want to get into the weeds on the different entities there.”
Church previously sat on the board of directors of the Alaska Policy Forum, a conservative advocacy group that has in the past supported large funding cuts to the University of Alaska system. He has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates in Alaska beginning a decade ago, including hundreds to Dunleavy.
Church is the co-owner of an excavation equipment company in Fairbanks, and has experience in real estate construction and management, according to his LinkedIn page.
“The university is a diverse place and diverse opinions and diverse educational backgrounds all can have a positive impact on the university, as long as you have people that are committed to its success,” Church said in a brief phone interview Thursday.
In a written statement, Dunleavy said Church would bring “a perspective to the Board of Regents that will ensure the University of Alaska is effectively preparing students for productive careers.”
Church said he studied organizational leadership and business management at Beacon University, an online institution, but did not obtain a degree.
“I believe that having a different perspective, coming from entrepreneurship, owning and managing employees and these businesses — a majority of them were in the state of Alaska — I think those things helped prepare me for this,” said Church.
The appointment fills a vacant seat on the University of Alaska Board of Regents. Dunleavy in May appointed his former adviser Tuckerman Babcock to serve on the board after the state Legislature narrowly voted to reject one of his picks for the board, Alaska Policy Forum director Bethany Marcum.