FAIRBANKS — Carol Lewis had been employed since she was 11 years old. She took a research position at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1973.
On Friday, 39 years later, she retired as dean of the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences.
During her time at UAF, Lewis restored a once stagnant Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, helped establish a reindeer herd as part of the Reindeer Research Program, developed new research and educational programs, and made improvements to the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences curriculum.
“We needed to pull ourselves out of a downward sloping enrollment curve, and I knew we couldn’t do that quickly,” she said. “It would take some effort, and it has. Now we are headed in the right direction.”
Lewis received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida and her doctorate from Georgetown University.
From field research to structured office work, Lewis said she most enjoyed the changing nature of her job.
She also has noticed many changes at UAF.
“It has always been a land grant university, but research has changed a great deal, and we’ve seen many cycles in the natural resources industry,” Lewis said.
Now that she is retired, Lewis plans to spend more time with her husband and their dog. She also hopes to write a book on agricultural research in Alaska.
On her last day at work, she said, “It’s very different. ... Not having a job is rather strange, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Associate director Stephen Sparrow, a professor of agronomy who researches bio-energy crops and soil management, will replace Lewis as interim dean and director. He has a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University, a master’s degree from Colorado State University and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, according to a UAF news release.
“My charge is to move the school ahead,” he said. “We’ll be revising the curriculum and planning a long-term sustainable financial plan.”
Sarah Richards is a News-Miner intern and journalism student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.