Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Talis Colberg has been selected by University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Fran Ulmer, from a field of four finalists, to head Palmer's Matanuska-Susitna College, as its Director. He succeeds Dennis Clark, who had been heading the institution since 2006, on an interim basis.
Colberg will be leaving his elected post as Mayor, and his day job as a state Labor Department hearing officer. Of the finalists for the college post, Colberg was one of two currently residing in Alaska. Dennis Clark had directed Eagle River Community College for several years before his three-year stint at MSC.
Chancellor Ulmer demanded that Colberg step down as Mat-Su Borough Mayor to take the MSC post. Although I'm concerned that his replacement at the borough will be even worse than Talis was turning out to be, I suspect Colberg may redeem his somewhat tarnished reputation at MSC.
Commenters at the local articles on Colberg's selection appear to know little about Colberg's potential as a local college head. Most are critical. I've known Talis for several years, and first got to know him as a colleague at MSC, where we both taught. Later, our daughters became close friends as they ran together on teams and track relays at Colony High School, so we would see each other fairly often as we supported our kids and their teams.
When Colberg was selected as Sarah Palin's Attorney General, I initially supported him. When Colberg's Alaska Department of Law came up with the absurd requirement that University of Alaska Professor Rick Steiner come up with $500,000.00 to obtain state scientists' correspondence on Polar bears, I became alarmed. When Colberg defended Palin's incredibly disgusting actions in regard to Troopergate, I was appalled. When he resigned as AG, I was glad to see him go. When he ran for borough mayor, I wrote in Katie Hurley's name.
During my 13-plus years teaching at Mat-Su College (1995-2007) and earlier stint as a student (1984-85), I learned that locally hired directors almost always run the college far better than the highly qualified imports. The only Outside director who favorably impressed me was Gene Emmons, from the mid- and late-90s. By far, the best directors have been local educators such as Al Okeson, Glenn Massay and Dennis Clark.
Colberg clearly has local roots, and has local interests at heart. I suspect he is very, very glad to be leaving Alaska politics.
Good luck, Talis!
images - Phil Munger and Talis Colberg at the 2009 Colony Days Parade in Palmer; Talis giving the MSC Class of 2007 commencement address, where I directed the college's band for my final performance as thwir head.