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Parnell’s Facebook page calls Sheldon Jackson’s campus good land with great potential for Alaskans.
He says the trustees of the college will be the ones making decisions about future, but that in the wake of Dubuque’s pull-out, Alaskans should come up with ideas, too.
As of Wednesday afternoon, six people had responded to the governor’s posting. One response suggested opening an inpatient treatment center for substance abuse on the campus. Another suggested establishing a center for the study of the U.S. and Alaskan interior, to be named after former Gov. Wally Hickel, who died last month.
“We need all the help we can get,” said Shirley Holloway, chairwoman of the Sheldon Jackson board of trustees.
Holloway says staff members for both Parnell and Gov. Sarah Palin were kept in the loop on what was going on with Sheldon Jackson.
But Holloway says actually having Parnell helping to advance ideas on what to do with the campus is great news.
“Oh, it’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m so appreciative the governor is interested in and cares about what happens to Sheldon Jackson College. He already demonstrated that by keeping the Stratton Library in his capital projects budget.”
The state capital budget called for $2.5 million to purchase Stratton Library. Parnell vetoed $500,000 from that amount, leaving $2 million intact. Selling the library is among the steps the college is taking to try and pay down its debt. One of Dubuque’s conditions on operating at S.J. was that it would not take on any of the college’s debt.
News that Dubuque was no longer interested in a deal with Sheldon Jackson came on Monday, when university President Jeffrey Bullock sent a letter saying the City of Sitka was unwilling to put forward political and financial muscle to make the deal happen and that the S.J. board didn’t share Dubuque’s plan for the campus.
That plan was outlined by Dubuque on March 9. The S.J. board sent a response back, asking for some changes. So when Bullock released his letter on Monday, walking way from the deal, Holloway says the tone – and the letter itself – took her by surprise.
“You know, this was a real blow, because we felt our response to Dubuque was continuing the dialogue. And for whatever reason, they decided it ended the dialogue.”
With Dubuque no longer interested, Holloway says the board will meet next week by teleconference to discuss its next step. In the meantime, she’s grateful for the ideas rounded up by Parnell, or anyone else.
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