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    Tuesday, December 11, 2018-5:27:48P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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New UOG president says he’s familiar with island issues

HAGÅTÑA — Dr. Thomas W. Krise, who began his tenure as the new president of the University of Guam amid initial protests from the local community, said he is familiar with Guam and is no stranger to island issues.

“I went to high school in the Virgin Islands, and my academic interests are in the Caribbean islands and I’ve taught in Jamaica,” Krise said during his first media conference after assuming the UOG’s top post on Aug. 6.

Thomas Krise

As UOG president, Krise said he also hoping to contribute to educating the mainland United States about Guam and the other territories, noting that in the U.S., “the ignorance about Guam and the territories is astonishing.”

Krise, a retired Air Force officer who served as president of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, succeeded Dr. Robert Underwood, who retired on July 30. He will serve as the chief executive officer of UOG for five years with an annual base salary of $210,000. He was one of  60 candidates who applied for the position.

The UOG’s Board of Regents’ decision to select Krise was greeted with protest from the local community. Many were rooting for UOG’s senior vice president Dr. Anita Borja-Enriquez, who has been with the university for 22 years.

Many also questioned Krise’s familiarity with the Micronesian region as UOG serves not only students from Guam but from the entire region including Guam, the CNMI, Palau, FSM, and the Marshall Islands.

“I expected resistance would be an issue even before the finalists were announced.  From my experience with island cultures, I’m aware of those issues. There are issues that apply to different places,” Krise said. “At most universities, a search process will involve an argument about leadership roles. Do we want an outsider or an insider? How much do we want to weigh one thing against the other? These are issues not unique to Guam or UOG.”

Krise said he has had meetings with Borja-Enriquez on several occasions. “We’ve a had a very good rapport right from the beginning,” he said. “I’ve been an internal candidate passed over for an external person myself, so I know exactly how that is. It happens a lot, and there are many examples around the university. She’s done a superb job.”

Prior to serving as PLU president, Krise served as dean of arts and sciences at the University of the Pacific, as chair of the English department at the University of Central Florida, and as a Fulbright scholar at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

He also served 22 years on active duty in the Air Force, retiring with the rank of lt. colonel. He served on the faculty of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, as a Senior Military Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Washington, and as Vice Director of the National Defense University Press in Washington.

“My academic career has been focused on issues of imperialism, colonialism and how island communities — in my case it’s the Caribbean islands — but there are interesting similarities to the experience of other places,” Krise said. “Having military experience is also useful. I found it in my last institution, where the campus was so close to the third largest military base in the country that you could hear the base bugle calls on the campus.”

Krise said when he learned about the opening of UOG position through an ad in the paper last year, it piqued his interest “because I’ve always paid attention to Guam, particularly because of living in the Virgin Islands.”

“It’s been terrific to read about the progress of the University, especially after the 10-year tenure of Dr. Robert Underwood, who has led a terrific team and worked very hard on issues across the University.  This institution has a lot to be proud of, and I’m very proud to be part of the team now,” he said.

Krise said among his goals is to help students navigate financial aid to enable them to graduate on time. “Many are leaving money on the table because they don’t know about it. We have to make sure that we have every possible resource available to support students, and they know how to get at them,” he said.

“Dr. Underwood has done a very good job of advocacy for the University in terms of resources, for insuring that we have steady support from the government of Guam.  We’ll also do everything we can to bring in resources from research grants and fundraising. Steady investment in education is necessary in order to achieve excellence,” he added.

Underwood, who began his tenure in 2008 and is the longest-serving UOG president, said, “It is my pleasure to welcome Dr. Krise to Guam and to UOG. The foundation of our university is strong, the faculty and the staff are ready to continue to move the institution forward. I’m confident Dr. Krise will utilize his extensive executive and academic expertise to move the university to a new chapter of success.”