College group meets Tuesday


Greg Podsiki is leading the charge to rally community support for a college in Haines.

Podsiki, a 37-year resident, believes a small college or vocational school would benefit the town’s year-round economy. Students who stay for the nine-month school year would boost the housing or rental markets, restaurants and the book store, he said.

Although the idea has been suggested before, Podsiki said now is the right time to diligently pursue it because he thinks Haines is in need of a winter economy.

A preliminary meeting at the Haines Borough Public Library July 31 drew four attendees. They were each assigned tasks, but their first goals are to spread the word and get people interested. A second meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the public library

Podsiki posted a paragraph on the Haines Chatters Facebook page July 9 about the idea. The post was seen by more than 130 people, liked by 28 and generated a positive discussion with more than 15 comments.

“We know there are a lot of people that support higher education and have the money to back that cause,” Podsiki said.

Podsiki thinks Haines would be a perfect backdrop for a college offering courses in ornithology, marine biology, environmental sciences or fine arts. Another option would be for different colleges or universities to house student groups and professors here for short periods of time just to use the facilities and explore the area.

The International Wilderness Leadership School is based in Haines. About 100 groups of roughly 10 students each briefly come through Haines but travel to other places in Alaska to earn college credit and outdoor skills like mountaineering and sea kayaking.

Cheryl McRoberts, executive director of the American Bald Eagle Foundation has sought partnerhips with universities.

Podsiki said a secondary goal for the college would be to further educate current Haines High School students and provide them with an option to stay in the community for additional schooling.

Patty Brown, long-time Haines Borough School District teacher, said her motivation to work on the project is to provide a place for students who just graduated high school.

“I don’t think online classes are the ticket for everyone,” Brown said. The strong Native culture in Haines could be integrated in programming and attractive to prospective students, Brown said. Email Brown at


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