Thursday, Feb. 19, 4 p.m.
Professional Services Building (PSB), Room 158
Eagle River Rep. Anna Fairclough will be the guest speaker for the Department of Journalism & Public Communications' Brown Bag Lunch speaker series on Thursday, Feb. 19.
She will speak at 4 p.m. in Room 158 of the Professional Services Building.
Rep. Fairclough chairs the House Alaska Renewable Energy Task Force, and the House Finance Subcommittees on Education and Early Development, Labor and Workforce Development, and on the University of Alaska.
Earlier in February, Rep. Fairclough was involved in an exchange in Juneau, during legislative hearings on the University of Alaska budget. Her take on how "liberal" or unbiased against "industry and development" Alaska's university system might be, is bizarre. Here's the exchange, from Pat Forgey's story in the Juneau Empire:
The University of Alaska is facing pressure from some Alaska legislators complaining about the political views of its faculty and students.
Rep. Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, a member of the powerful House Finance Committee, has grilled Chancellor Mark Hamilton before her committee, and questioned his university's support for the oil and mining industries.
"If I ask university staff, the people who are educating our future leaders, if they support the Chukchi Sea development, the Red Dog Mine or the Pebble Mine or any type of industry along those lines, a stereotypical response is they are in opposition," she said.
At the same time, Fairclough said, they were asking for more money for the university.
"I found it amazing there was a large disconnect in where the dollars for the state of Alaska come from on a regular basis as far as production of oil on the North Slope goes, and how it is turned into revenue for the state of Alaska and in turn is invested in the university system," she said.
Hamilton had to defend his system.
"We probably have the most conservative faculty, and the most conservative student body, you'll ever meet," Hamilton said. "Thank goodness you are not representing Berkeley."
Fairclough continued to question the university system's funding requests.
"How should I advocate more funding for an entire group that doesn't want to see development going forward," she said.
Committee Co-chair Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, said Fairclough was not alone in the committee regarding her views.
"I can assure you that Rep. Fairclough is not the only person who has had that experience at this table," he said.
Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said some of the students who visit the Capitol looking for money are openly anti-development.
"They come down here and rail against anything that brings in the very bucks that they come down here and tell us that we owe them," he said.
Hamilton urged the committee not to hold some students' views against the entire university system, and said they may well change as they age.
"You can hope, as I do, that these students will mature over time," Hamilton said.
This matter has been covered far more extensively in Anchorage-area blogs than in the Anchorage Daily News. Their print edition has totally ignored ADN-based coverage of Fairclough's stance.
Progressive Alaska brought this up last week in the context of University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton and his professional responsibilities.
Mudflats brought it up in a hilarious, yet serious essay on how weird Fairclough's views are.
To typify the University of Alaska system or UAA as "liberal" or"anti-development" begs the approach President Hamilton took to Fairclough's tack. Essentially, he was rhetorically asking, "liberal - compared to WHAT?"
I've taught at one or another of UAA's campuses since early 1995. I teach in the same building in Eagle River where Rep. Fairclough has her local legislative office. Both of my kids attended UAA for their freshman years.
I can't think of another state university system in the United States that is less liberal than the University of Alaska. To get more conservative, one would have to attend a private university or religious college.
Apathetic - yes. Liberal - no.
I'm looking forward to meeting Rep. Fairclough this afternoon.
Update - 4:00 p.m: I had to drive back out to Wasilla after teaching my morning class at UAA. Not enough time to get all the way back to the main campus and then out to ERCC for my evening class. Hopefully, another Alaska blogger will be at Rep. Fairclough's talk.