Feb. 15, 2023 — EduAlliance presents: Higher Ed Without Borders featuring Dr. Janelle Vanasse, president, Alaska Pacific University

February 15, 2023: Don’t miss the final episode in this 4-part series, Higher Ed Without Borders, starring Dr. Janelle Vanasse, president of Alaska Pacific University.

Hosts Dean Hoke of Edu Alliance and Tom Davisson explain why this series is important: Tom and I are graduates of small colleges and served as trustees of our alma maters. We understand that smaller colleges and universities offer quality personalized education, the classes have a lower student/teacher ratio, and the small college experience builds a community that will benefit them for a lifetime.

Tom: During this series, we will talk with four Small College Presidents across the United States about their institutions; what makes them unique and important to their communities. Also, we will discuss their challenges and their views for the future.

Joining us today is: The president of Alaska Pacific University, Dr. Janelle Vanasse, located in Anchorage. Dr. Vanasse has been a leader in education for more than 30 years, specifically at schools and institutions that prioritize Alaska Native education. Immediately before joining APU, Vanasse served as superintendent in Sitka. She also held various leadership roles in the Bethel area, including the principal. Throughout her career, Dr. Vanasse has elevated the educational experience for Alaska Native students. She believes that scholarship and leadership are enhanced when influenced by our authentic selves. Dr. Vanasse holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from St. Cloud State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Gonzaga University. Her most recent academic work includes research about the power of cultural self-identity in college persistence.


Tom: Janelle, Let’s start by talking about Alaska Pacific University. Can you do a brief profile of APU? I believe you have around 550 students. Tell me about your students and degree programs. What are some of the programs you are most noted for?

Dean: With the school located in a state that has a population of less than 750,000, you can’t just depend on just students coming from a 100-mile radius like schools located in states with millions of people. What attracts students to come to Alaska Pacific? Also, I believe about 25% of your students are Alaska native students. In your opinion, how do high school native students and families perceive higher education and the reasons they opt into or out of attending higher education?

Tom: When we talked with you as we prepared for the show, you spoke to us about the university is working toward becoming a tribal college. Can you tell us what is a tribal college and its advantages?

Dean: You, like many other Alaskans I’ve known, seem to be adventurers.  The Bemidji Pioneer, your hometown paper in Minnesota, interviewed you, and you talked about your career as an educator, which led you eventually to Bethel, Alaska.  You first went to Fairbanks for a year, and then you said to the paper: “When that didn’t feel like an adventure enough, I moved out to Bethel, Alaska, which is a rural, off-the-road community.” You seemed to have found what you were looking for. Tell us what did you find and how did that experience attracted you to become President of APU?

Tom: The school was established in the late 1950s, just before Alaska became the 49th state to enter the union. During these past 60-plus years, I imagine APU has established several partnerships that have benefited the school and the outside community. Can you tell us about a few of those partnerships?

Dean:  A final question we ask all the Presidents in this series. Why are small colleges and universities like yours important?

Click here to learn more about Alaska Pacific University.

If you missed any of the 4 episodes in this series, click here to watch them all!

About the Hosts

Dean Hoke is a Managing Partner of Edu Alliance Group in the United States and Co-Founder of Edu Alliance Ltd. in the United Arab Emirates. Dean has decades of progressively responsible and visionary leadership roles in higher education, communications & online learning. He has led numerous initiatives that have created innovation & positive change in the higher education & non-profit sector. Dean is a member of the Board of the American Association of University Administrators, the Franklin University School of Education Advisory Board, and a member of NAFSA.

Dean began his career in 1975 with Bellarmine University working in a variety of roles, including Admissions and External Relations. In 1983 he entered the broadcasting field, serving as a senior executive for Public Broadcasting System stations and a cable network. In 1998 he co-founded The Connected Learning Network, a full-service online learning company. In 2009 accepted an invitation to move to the United Arab Emirates serving in senior positions at Higher Colleges of Technology & Khalifa University before co-founding Edu Alliance in 2014.

He participates in numerous advisory & consulting projects in international education, branding, business intelligence, and online learning. He is an active speaker and writer in the field of international higher education and distance learning. Dean has presented and written on the field of leadership, higher education, and distance learning in the United States, Turkey, Spain, Lebanon, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.  Mr. Hoke has a B.A. from Urbana University, an M.S. from the University of Louisville, and a Certificate in Executive Management from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Dean currently resides in Bloomington, Indiana. You are encouraged to connect on LinkedIn

Tom Davisson served 30 years as Executive VP and COO with Sullivan University System in Kentucky. Before joining Sullivan, Tom was President of DeVry University DuPage and Area President of all Chicago area Campuses of DeVry. He has had P & L responsibilities with DeVry and Sullivan, institutions of over 8,000 students. Tom led their team at Sullivan University from a two-year institution to a regionally accredited doctoral-granting university. In addition to adding baccalaureate and masters level programming, Tom also led the university in adding a doctor of Pharmacy and Ph.D. in Management. He also led the institutions’ online development, growing to over 3,000 students taking online classes each term.

Mr. Davisson is one of the leading experts in higher education institutions, bridging the gap between education and the workforce. He has written White Papers for Governor in two states and worked on the Manpower Planning Task Force for the Governor of a third state. Tom also testified before the US Congress on Workforce legislation. In addition, he has served on and chaired visiting committees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in the Southeast US and in 5 other countries. He retired from the Board of Trustees of the University of Rio Grande in Ohio in the summer of 2019 and has been named Trustee Emeritus from their Board.

Tom has more than 47 years of experience in senior higher education administration experience. He also serves on numerous non-profit boards. He has a bachelor’s Degree from the University of Rio Grande in Ohio, a Master’s from National Louis University, and a Certificate in the Executive MBA Program from the University of Chicago.

Click here to learn more about the founders of EduAlliance!