The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Desorcie ousted as PWSCC president

Wes Lundburg steps in after chancellor calls for change


Valdez Star photo

Wes Lundburg, dean of instruction at Prince William Sound Community College, was named interim president of the college Monday after Tom Case, UAA Chancellor, announced an immediate change in leadership. Doug Desorcie, president since 2005, is on leave and left the office.

Doug Desorcie, president of Prince William Sound Community College, is on leave after Tom Case, University of Alaska Anchorage chancellor, announced the need for a change of leadership at the college. Wes Lundburg, current dean of instruction at PWSCC, has been named interim president.

“Doug has been removed from the presidency here,” Lundburg said shortly after the announcement was made to PWSCC employees Monday afternoon. “All I’m allowed to say is what’s on the press release.”

The press release, which was distributed to college faculty and staff, did not name a specific reason for the ouster.

“After giving significant consideration to the concerns and best interests of Prince William Sound Community College…and in consultation with President Gamble and others, I’ve concluded that a change in leadership at PWSCC is required,” Case said in the document. “I respect Doug's efforts and successes during his tenure. However, over the past few years Doug has faced a number of leadership challenges.”

As of Tuesday morning, Desorcie did not return calls seeking comment on the announcement.

A long tenure

Desorcie himself became president of the college in 2005 after the controversial resignation of his predecessor, Dr. Jody McDowell. He was dean of students in 2004 when he was named interim president, having served in the position for a decade. As president, Desorcie oversaw the addition of numerous programs and expansions at the school, the only true community college in Alaska. The current nursing program and the building of the current Whitney Museum are two of the most conspicuous achievements under his wing, but numerous other programs came to fruition during his tenure.

He is also known for his civic-mindedness and dedication to education on numerous levels. He served several terms on the Valdez board of education and emceed or hosted many fundraisers for good works. He was also not above poking fun at himself – if it would further education. He subjected himself to a public head-shaving and other bad hair stunts to encourage fundraising efforts for scholarships, wore goofy costumes to remind people to vote and spearheaded too many community fish fries to mention.

He was also a star hockey goalie for the UAF Nanooks during the early 1980s. The team still bestows the Doug Desorcie Rookie of the Year accolade to its most promising new player. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1985 and took graduate classes through 1987 according to UAA biography. He joined the faculty of Prince William Sound Community College since 1992 when John Devens was president. He was promoted to dean by McDowell in 1996.

Lundburg takes charge

Lundburg says the student and faculty are moving forward during the shake-up.

Valdez Star file photo

Former college president Doug Desorcie (right) and former House Speaker John Harris during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Whitney Museum, which now stands on the grounds of Prince William Sound Community College.

“They are fine,” he said. “I talked to them about focusing on the future. They’re taking it fairly well.”

Lundburg came to PWSCC five years ago to serve as dean of students. He is a UAA graduate with a BA and Masters degree in English. He still teaches classes for PWSCC, after tackling the subject for 11 years

before coming back to Alaska.

“I was in Minnesota at a community college there,” he said.

Lundburg and Desorcie have worked together closely during his tenure, a fact noted by university.

“Having successfully completed its reaffirmation of accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities—a process through which both Wes and Doug played pivotal roles—PWSCC and its staff can look forward to a bright future, including its upcoming graduation, and signature summer event, the PWSCC Theatre Conference,” the University said Monday.


Reader Comments

555 writes:

I can't believe it, what a terrible decision. What an amazing person and irreplaceable leader. There's no way they're going to find a better fit for that position. A HUGE loss for the school and for our town.

resident writes:

tis a sad day for Valdez! Doug is a vital member of the community and always willing to volunteer for the grunt work no one else wants to do. He will be sorely missed.


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