Bill Walker, Pat Pitney

Gov. Bill Walker's budget director, Pat Pitney, right, addresses reporters as Walker looks on during a news conference on the state budget that Walker recently signed, on Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

The University of Alaska Board of Regents has named Pat Pitney has its interim president.

The announcement came Tuesday evening in a news release from the university. Pitney will take over from acting President Michelle Rizk on Aug. 1.

On Friday, regents met to whittle the list of interim competitors from 35 to five. The five finalists included Pitney; University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Dan White; University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Cathy Sandeen; former UAF Interim Chancellor Dana Thomas; and Rizk, the acting president who is also system vice president of university relations and chief strategy, planning and budget officer.

Pitney is the current director of legislative finance and was the former vice chancellor of administration for UAF. She spent 23 years with the University of Alaska before leaving to serve as state budget director under former Gov. Bill Walker, according to the news release. She is expected to serve as interim president for up to 18 months or until the appointment of a president.

"One of the reasons the board felt so strongly about Pat as interim president was because of her demonstrated commitment to a spirit of partnership with university leadership and the principles of shared governance," Board Chair Sheri Buretta said in the news release. "We are confident that she has the skills to address the range of issues facing UA. We also are confident that her many years of experience in leadership positions and state government will benefit and unify all of us.”

Pitney's appointment fills the gap left by former UA President Jim Johnsen, who resigned June 22. Johnsen stepped down after the UA Faculty Union board of directors called for his resignation in relation to a controversy over his seeking a position with the University of Wisconsin. Rizk immediately filled Johnsen's spot on June 22 until Tuesday's appointment of Pitney.

Pitney moved to Fairbanks in 1987 from Billings, Montana, according to biographical information on the office of the president's site at www.alaska.edu. She earned her Master of Business Administration from UAF and an engineering physics degree from Murray State University in Kentucky. She has three adult children and two grandchildren. All three of her children are UA graduates, with degrees from UAF, UAA and UAS. Before moving to Alaska, she was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team and won a gold medal in women’s air rifle.

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