University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Dan White has appointed UAF School of Management faculty member Peggy Keiper to serve as interim athletic director for the Nanooks.
Starting on Feb. 1, Keiper will succeed Keith Champagne, who has been serving in dual roles as vice chancellor for student affairs and athletic director for the past 18 months. Champagne will continue to serve as vice chancellor. Keiper will report to the chancellor, a structure common at many universities and one that previously existed at UAF.
In June 2019, White made the decision to combine the vice chancellor and athletic director positions as a way to increase integration of athletics into the student experience. Since then, demands in both areas have increased.
“This is a critical time for athletics at UAF and a time in which full-time dedication to strengthening our programs is needed,” White said in a statement, adding that the separation of the two units represents a renewed commitment to providing high-quality and competitive intercollegiate athletics teams in all of UAF’s 10 sports. “This change will allow Vice Chancellor Champagne to focus on his many ongoing initiatives to modernize the student experience at UAF and to build on his team’s strategic enrollment efforts. I am thankful that Dr. Keiper is willing to step up and take on leadership of athletics while we search for a permanent, full-time athletic director. Her extensive expertise in sports marketing and communication and her role leading UAF’s sport and recreation business program give her a head start on community outreach and engagement.”
Keiper is an associate professor and director of the sport and recreation business program in the UAF School of Management. She has a doctorate in sport administration from the University of New Mexico. Prior to joining the UAF faculty in 2017, she had worked for nearly a decade in the sports industry, including sports tourism and the NBA’s minor league system, and as a college women’s basketball coach. She was national sales manager for the West Michigan Sports Commission, where she led the commission’s effort to generate economic spending to the Greater Grand Rapids Area and won bids to host six NCAA national championships with Grand Valley State University and Calvin College.
“I am fully committed to helping advance the UAF athletics department,” Keiper said. “I am excited to work with the dedicated staff and coaches to enhance community outreach and increase efficiency in the athletics department and ensure a smooth transition between myself and a new athletic director.”
White plans to launch a national search for a permanent, full-time athletic director in hopes of having the position filled by midsummer. Keiper will return to her full-time faculty position following her service as interim athletic director.