“Dr. Vanasse has a wealth of educational leadership in Alaska Native communities that she’ll bring to APU as our new president,” said Ethan Schutt, chairman of APU’s Board of Trustees. “Her experience leading some of the state’s most notable schools and training centers ensures that she’ll lead with care, commitment, and cultural awareness as APU continues its journey transitioning to a Tribal university.”
Vanasse has 29 years of education experience in Alaska, including leading Alaska Native-serving schools. She has served as superintendent at Mt. Edgecumbe High School since 2016 and previously held a range of education roles in the Bethel area, including director of secondary education for the Lower Kuskokwim School District and founding director of Yuut Elitnaurviat—the People’s Learning Center.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this great university,” Vanasse said. “As superintendent at Mt. Edgecumbe and a former principal at Bethel Regional High School, I’ve seen dozens of our students find success and self-discovery at Alaska Pacific University. I’m committed to an excellent education for all Alaskans, one that goes beyond the textbooks to help each student reach their full potential. I’m honored to take this leadership role and continue providing the one-of-a-kind transformational education that APU is known for.”
The announcement concludes a nationwide search that included candidates from across the country. A search committee interviewed finalists and invited two to share presentations about their vision for the university with the APU community.
“This search process involved every stakeholder group of our community,” Schutt said. “I want to thank the search committee, the Board of Trustees, the Elders Council, and everyone at APU who shared their time in the selection of our next president. The Board is confident Janelle is the right choice for APU’s next chapter.”
In addition to her leadership roles in secondary and community education, Dr. Vanasse is a member of organizations supporting higher education in Alaska, including the UAS-Sitka Advisory Board and the board of AlaskaCan! 65 x 2025, an initiative of the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network. Her research focuses on college readiness for Alaska Native students.
Vanasse earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Gonzaga University, a superintendent endorsement from University of Alaska Southeast, a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a bachelor’s in special education at St. Cloud State University.
“We are delighted to welcome Janelle to APU,” said provost and interim president Dr. Hilton Hallock. “With deep ties in Alaska Native communities, her clear commitment to culturally responsive education makes her an ideal addition to the university. We look forward to her leadership as we continue educating Alaska’s next leaders.”