Alaska in Brief

Alaska’s university system says two science education leaders are on administrative leave

Herb Schroeder is seen in an undated photo. (University of Alaska system photo)

Herb Schroeder is seen in an undated photo. (University of Alaska system photo)

One of Alaska’s pioneers in science education is on “non-disciplinary administrative leave” along with one of his deputies as part of “confidential administrative processes,” a University of Alaska Anchorage official said Thursday.

The status of Herb Schroeder, the founder and director of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, is “in accordance with standard operating procedure and university policy,” UAA Provost Denise Runge said in a statement.

“Administrative leave is a normal part of these processes and doesn’t imply violations of university policy,” the statement quoted Runge as saying.

Michael Ulroan, senior director of an ANSEP program called the “Acceleration Academy,” is in the same status as Schroeder, according to Runge.

Neither Schroeder nor Ulroan could be reached for comment Thursday. Schroeder didn’t return a message left on his mobile phone, and Ulroan did not respond to an email sent to his personal account.

Matt Calhoun, ANSEP’s assistant director since 2015 and a civil engineering professor, is acting as Schroeder’s temporary replacement, Runge said. Ulroan’s responsibilities are being assumed by other ANSEP staff, she added.

“UAA is committed to the continued success of ANSEP and its mission, and the university doesn’t anticipate any programmatic interruptions as a result of this process,” Runge said. “The university is working to make sure the process is thorough and expedient, and the privacy of those involved is protected.”

ANSEP, which Schroeder founded in 1995, has been hailed as a model for Indigenous education. It began as a scholarship program for university students, and now supports students as early as kindergarten in working toward careers in engineering and science. 

The program’s website says that more than 2,500 Alaska Native students are involved.

Schroeder, who has a doctorate in civil engineering, has been honored with awards from the White House, the Alaska Federation of Natives and the University of Colorado Boulder, his alma mater. 

He’s been particularly successful in raising money for his programs from both corporate and government sources, and state lawmakers are set to budget between $5 million and $10 million for ANSEP this year.

Ulroan, who’s Cup’ik and from Chevak in Southwest Alaska, was an ANSEP student, delivered a commencement speech at his UAA graduation and describes himself as the first engineer of his village. A 2014 Anchorage Daily News story described Schroeder as a mentor to Ulroan.

Ulroan leads the Acceleration Academy, which in which high school students can take free university courses to shorten their time toward a college degree. He also works as a life coach, according to his personal website.

This article was originally published in Northern Journal, a newsletter from journalist Nathaniel Herz. Subscribe at this link.

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Nathaniel Herz, Northern Journal
Nathaniel Herz, Northern Journal

Nathaniel Herz is a freelance reporter who’s spent a decade as a journalist in Alaska, including stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. His articles published in the Alaska Beacon first appeared in his newsletter, Northern Journal, at