Kenai Peninsula College

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The University of Alaska Anchorage is reopening its campuses this fall, including the Homer and Soldotna campuses of Kenai Peninsula College.

Both campuses have been quiet since March 2020, when the college moved the vast majority of its classes online and closed its buildings to the public. Those rules are now set to expire Aug. 2. The first day of classes is Aug. 23.

Kenai Peninsula College just graduated its senior class. It also just hired a new director.

Cheryl Siemers has been with KPC for a long time, most recently as the assistant director for Academic Affairs. She'll be stepping into the role of college director this summer. 

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Long-time college employee Cheryl Siemers is the new director for Kenai Peninsula College.

She’s replacing Gary Turner, who’s retiring this year after 19 years in the role. Turner says he’s thrilled with the choice.

"She’s what KPC needs now, and moving into the future,” Turner said.

Travel was one of the first things to go last March, sending students who were on the Kenai Peninsula for foreign exchange — and their counterparts from Kenai who were abroad — packing.

But some programs are coming back in 2021. Our guests are Mitch Michaud with the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program, in conjunction with Kenai Peninsula College; Eileen Bryson with the local chapter of the American Field Service; and Will Morrow with the Soldotna Rotary Club's exchange program.

Kenai Peninsula College Director Gary Turner is retiring at the end of this fiscal year. There are two candidates in the final round of consideration to take the reins July 1. Candidate forums will be held over Zoom this week for the campus and community.

Debbie Boege-Tobin

Cook Inlet belugas used to follow salmon through the Kenai River in the summer. Now, they’re mostly just spotted in other seasons.

Researchers from NOAA Fisheries aren’t sure why. It’s one of many questions they’re asking about the endangered population to better understand why the belugas aren’t rebounding and how the agency can support their recovery.

A study featuring a relatively new DNA sampling technique might help them find answers.

UAA Alaska Native Studies Symposia

When it comes to stories, it’s not just what you say — it’s how you say it.

Local linguists are incorporating storytelling into their language revitalization efforts, giving elders a chance to create and tell stories in their native languages and imparting that knowledge onto language learners.

Joel Isaak, an artist and Dena'ina language professor with Kenai Peninsula College, spoke about that project at Tuesday’s Alaska Native Studies Symposia, put on by the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Kenai Peninsula College

From the time Clayton Brockel founded Kenai Peninsula College in 1964, he and his wife, Jean, were loyal champions of the institution. 

Clayton died in 2013 and Jean in 2019. But their support for KPC lives on.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Days before classes start, spring enrollment numbers at Kenai Peninsula College are about the same as they were this fall.

College Director Gary Turner says he’s hesitant to make assumptions about student behavior. But if he had to guess:

“I would say, in my opinion, that students said, ‘OK, I can do this," he said. "And many of our classes have been distanced in the past. So that’s why I think our numbers in the fall semester are just about right on target that we have right now.”

Kenai Peninsula College hosted a two-part series of presentations on the possible effects of climate change on the future of fishing and hunting on the Kenai Peninsula. Part two focused on wildlife, featuring John Morton, retired supervisory biologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and Erin Shew and Hope Roberts with the Chugach Regional Research Commission.

The full Zoom presentation is available on the Kenai Peninsula College Showcase page on Facebook.

Kenai Peninsula College hosted a two-part series of presentations on the possible effects of climate change on the future of fishing and hunting on the Kenai Peninsula. Part one, on fish populations and the Cook Inlet watershed, featured Dr. Erik Shane, fisheries biologist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Sue Mauger, Science and executive director with Cook Inletkeeper.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Kenai Peninsula College students who have struggled during the pandemic have another week to apply for CARES relief.

The college is offering $500 in funding to students who are enrolled in six or more KPC credits and are residents of either Soldotna or Homer, the two cities that set aside CARES funding for the program.

Money for Soldotna students will be channeled through the Kenai River Campus, while funds for Homer students will go through the Kachemak Bay Campus. Funding is available through Dec. 18.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Katina’s Cafe, the food service operator on contract with Kenai Peninsula College, will likely close due to a unique set of circumstances that made operating during the pandemic impossible.

Owned by Tina Lagoutaris, Katina’s has been on contract with KPC since 2016 to provide meals to students on dining plans at its Kenai River Campus. Though Lagoutaris runs it as an independent business, the cafe is located inside the college.

“We’re sandwiched between the biology lab, the chem lab and the commons area," she said.

Which means when KPC switched to a mostly online system and locked its doors to the public this spring, Katina’s had to shut down, too.

Courtesy of Matt Plant

We are all long overdue for a good laugh.

That’s why Kenai Peninsula College and Power Plant Productions are hosting a virtual stand-up comedy show tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Kenai Peninsula College Showcase Facebook page.

Actor-comedian Jamie Lissow is headlining. Lissow splits his time between L.A. and Fairbanks, and will be performing from his Alaska home tonight.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Kenai Peninsula College will be mostly online again this spring.

All University of Alaska Anchorage campuses, including KPC, will remain in Phase B — the second reopening phase in a scheme of five. In Phase B, some classes, like labs, are taught in person, and on-campus housing is open at reduced capacity. 

Chancellor Cathy Sandeen wrote an email to the UAA community last week that current and future infection patterns made sticking to Phase B the most advisable plan going forward. She said that releasing the decision now gives students, faculty and staff time to prepare for another mostly remote semester.

In a newsletter to KPC students sent out today, College Director Gary Turner reiterated that the decision applies to KPC.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Enrollment is down 18 percent at Kenai Peninsula College this fall.

Last year, there were 2,072 students enrolled in the fall semester, 174 of whom were taking classes full time. This year, there are 1,729 students enrolled, 121 of whom are full time. Students are also taking fewer classes this semester — enrollment by credit hours is down by 20 percent.

There are a few reasons for that dip, said President Gary Turner. 

Like most colleges and schools, Kenai Peninsula College made an emergency switch to entirely distance education and shut down its campuses around mid-March. The college is planning to go forward next fall with mostly distance-delivered  classes but there will be a handful of in-person classes when possible.

The college has summer classes but they’re all online, the way the spring was. By the time fall semester starts in September, some classes will be back to meeting in person — but only some, and in smaller numbers, with protective measures in place. Other typical functions, like the art galleries, will stay closed for the fall.

Remembering Dr. Alan Boraas

Nov 15, 2019
Shaylon Cochran/KDLL


Thanks to everyone who shared memories of Dr. Boraas on the Kenai Conversation. Here are a few from the show:

Kenai Conversation: Remembering Dr. Alan Boraas

Nov 7, 2019
University of Alaska

This week, we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Alan Boraas, who died Monday at the age of 72. Boraas taught at Kenai Peninsula College for 46 years, but his impact goes far beyond the campus. As an anthroplogist, he dedicated his career to preserving and promoting the native languages and cultural traditions of the Kenai Peninsula. We're joined this week with George Holley, Bill Holt and Dr. James Kari who worked with Boraas on language studies, most notably the 1991 book "A Dena'ina Legacy: K'tl'egh'i Sukdu: The Collected Writings of Peter Kalifornsky".

Dr. Alan Boraas dies at 72

Nov 4, 2019
University of Alaska


Long time Kenai Peninsula College anthropology professor Dr. Alan Boraas died Monday morning at the age of 72, following a stroke.

KPC hosts wilderness skills course

Oct 30, 2019


There are all kinds of reasons why we may find ourselves unexpectedly outdoors and potentially not ready for it. A wilderness survival class at KPC this weekend intends to prevent that, by explaining the basics of how to stay sheltered and warm without all the comforts of a properly planned trip. 

KPC faculty vote no confidence for UAA president

Oct 14, 2019


University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen is losing support among faculty throughout the university system. The UAA Faculty Senate voted last week to recommend to the Board of Regents that Johnsen be suspended for his efforts to move the university toward a single accreditation, among other reasons. The Kenai Peninsula College Faculty Forum has already cast a vote of no confidence.


KPC lecture looks to the stars above

Oct 3, 2019


For eons, cultures across the globe have attached deep meaning to the constellations we see in the sky. It’s no different for northern cultures, who have their own mythologies surrounding the stars. A presentation at Kenai Peninsula College this week will feature a Ph.D student from Fairbanks who’s spent the last decade studying Alaska Native relationships with the cosmos. KDLL’s Shaylon Cochran spoke with Chris Cannon and has this preview.



Spring 2019: Arts Education

May 28, 2019
Kenai Peninsula College

Education budgets have been a major discussion topic this legislative session. And when the possibility for cuts to schools becomes real, arts are often at the top of the list. Cam Choy, Associate Art Professor at Kenai Peninsula College; Sadie Sprenger, art student at KPC and Chris Jenness, Art Instructor at Soldotna High School join us to talk about art in and out of the classroom.

KPC braced for more budget cuts

Feb 12, 2019


A lot of the budget talk out of Juneau has been focused on school districts around the state. But the university system is also expected to be targeted by Governor Mike Dunleavy’s forthcoming budget.

Registration for the the spring semester at Kenai Peninsula College kicked off Monday.

“It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s going the time that you’re the one who procrastinates and doesn’t register early and don’t get a seat in the class that you want.”

Suzie Kendrick is the advancement programs manager for KPC in Soldotna.

“We already have had some preregistration take place," she said. "We have a priority registration period; our existing students, the ones who are closest to graduation. And our veterans, who always get first shake.”

Author Tarr to speak at KPC Showcase Series

Nov 1, 2018
Aleksandra Wiecha


Alaska author Kathleen Tarr returns to the Kenai Thursday night, when she’ll be featured as part of Kenai Peninsula College’s Showcase series. Tarr released a book last year, 'We Are All Poets Here' about Trappist monk Thomas Merton, a prolific writer and renowned spiritualist who spent 17 days traveling in Alaska just months before his untimely death in 1968.



Signs of ancient salmon culture persist

Sep 17, 2018
Shaylon Cochran/KDLL


Last week, we reported on a panel discussion that took place in Soldotna about salmon habitat. One of the takeaways from that event was the fact that in many areas of the world that have lost their wild salmon runs, gone too is a culture based around salmon. But on the Kenai Peninsula, both the fish and the culture they spawn remain.




KPC begins fall semester with light bump in enrollment

Aug 24, 2018
University of Alaska

Fall classes begin at Kenai Peninsula College Monday. The official number of students isn’t known yet, with fall schedules still being amended. But the number continues to inch closer to 3,000.


Workforce development on the Kenai Peninsula, with Cathy LeCompte, director of the Alaska Vocational Technical Center in Seward, Sean Dusek, superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, and Gary Turner, director of Kenai Peninsula College.