FAIRBANKS (AP) -- After nine years as dean of the College of Rural Alaska, Ralph Gabrielli has decided to return to teaching.
''The main thing is I feel very comfortable leaving now with the fact that the college is strong and now able to draw on its internal strengths,'' Gabrielli said Thursday.
As dean, a job he will continue through the end of the semester, he helped turn the college into one of the largest and busiest entities at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, with six branch campuses around the state and the responsibility for distance education programs. In 2000, a record 3,556 students enrolled in the Center for Distance Education's Independent Learning program.
''There's so much to be proud of at the College of Rural Alaska,'' UAF Chancellor Marshall Lind said. ''And much of the success is due to the efforts of Ralph Gabrielli.''
Most recently, Gabrielli helped procure $9.2 million from the federal government for the college's satellite campuses, the Chukchi, Bristol Bay, Kuskokwim, Interior-Aleutians, and Northwest campuses.
He also oversees the Tanana Valley Campus in downtown Fairbanks, a hub for adult education, and the Cooperative Extension Service.
In the early part of the last decade, many of the campuses and programs were scattered and the role of the college was in question.
The college's troubles came from a variety of reasons, Gabrielli said.
''The general value of our programs was not viewed by the Legislature at that time,'' he said.
Lind said he hopes to have a new dean in place by the start of the fall semester.
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