Dunleavy appoints former GOP senator Ralph Seekins to UA Board of Regents

The University of Alaska Fairbanks. (Photo by NASA/Goddard/Clare Skelly)

The former Fairbanks state senator would take the place of Gloria O’Neill, who was appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced today that he has appointed former Fairbanks Republican Sen. Ralph Seekins to the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents.

The 75-year-old car dealership owner will take the place of Regent Gloria O’Neill for an eight-year term that concludes in 2029. O’Neill, who is the President and CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council and lives in Anchorage, was appointed to the position in 2013 by former Gov. Sean Parnell.

Ralph Seekins in his legislative photo.

Keeping his position on the board is Regent Dale Anderson, of Juneau.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents is charged with overseeing the university system and its budget and has been particularly challenged over the past decade with steep cuts in state funding. Dunleavy initially proposed gutting the UA budget in 2019, a position that at times seemed to have the support of his appointees (particularly Regent Hargraves), but eventually relented and signed an agreement with the board that would set predictable budget cuts over three years. The compact’s final year will be covered in the budget the Legislature is currently considering.

Seekins is a long-time member of the Alaska Republican Party, representing Fairbanks in the Alaska Senate from 2003-2006. Seekins again ran for office in 2012, losing in the primary to moderate Fairbanks Republican Sen. Click Bishop (a race that, coincidentally, included now-Rep. David Eastman), and as served as one of Alaska’s committeemen National Republican Committee and delegate to the Republican National Convention.

In a Nov. 1, 2020 letter to the editor published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Seekins wrote of independent Senate candidate Al Gross’ attempt to get Seekins’ endorsement, “Surprised me that, of all people, he’d call me.”

Seekins will be the third Fairbanks member on the 11-member Board of Regents, alongside Regents John Davies and Karen Perdue.

Dunleavy’s initial slate of appointees to the board included Fairbanks realtor Tammy Randolph, who eventually withdrew from consideration when her social media account came to light that voiced support for the far-right QANON conspiracy theory and other racist posts.

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