Automotive Technology Certificate ’73
Associate of Applied Science ’10
Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Fun fact: Was born in London, England, on a U.S. Air Force base that no longer exists
Raise your hand if you knew that the grass seed that UAA uses is called Alaska Bluegrass Nugget.
“I’ve been planting that on campus since about 1985,” says Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations Chris Mizelle. “It greens up really quick in the spring and was actually developed up here through the Palmer Research Center.”
What about the fact that 70 percent of all college students choose their campus based, in part, on the way it looks?
“UAA has 55 acres of turf that I maintained [as a grounds keeper] as the jewel of Anchorage,” Chris says. “I strived to make this a place where students could be proud to bring their parents, a place that really sparkled. That’s my greatest accomplishment.”
Chris has been the director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations for about five years—his jurisdiction supporting a crew of 65–95 staff that comprise fleet services, landscaping, custodial and maintenance. He began his career here 28 years ago, in 1984, as a custodian and worked his way up the ladder as grounds worker, grounds supervisor and associate director of maintenance and operations before settling into his director position.
“I took my job seriously,” says the UAA veteran about to retire in August. “And to be honest, that’s the only way you’re going to move up is to work hard; make sure you do what your boss wants before your boss knows he wants it.”
Chris’ relaxed laughter, solid work ethic and easy disposition have touched just about every single department on campus at one time or another during his tenure.
“Facilities is really the hub of the wheel,” he says. “All spokes lead there and we support everybody.”
Chris is also quick to point out that he was a student here first and foremost, beginning in the automotive technology program in 1971 during the early days of Anchorage Community College. Later he went on to earn his associate degree in applied science, but he also bounced around doing different things throughout the state—everything from a truck driver during the Alaska Pipeline construction in 1973 and ’74 to a commercial tire salesman right before coming to UAA.
Chris’ family moved to Alaska from Washington State in 1968 when his dad took his terminal assignment with the U.S. Air Force. Like most military families, they bounced around a lot as Chris grew up—from his birthplace in England to crossing the United States “in three-year blips.” From the perspective of a teenager, Chris was slightly disappointed that his father hadn’t chosen a Hawaii assignment instead, but he quickly fell in love with the 49th state, easily staying after high school and college.
“There are great opportunities here in Alaska,” says Chris. “I realized that right off the bat.”
Working as a gas station mechanic on Elmendorf right out of college in 1973, he met his wife, Suzette, who worked there as well. Suzette, who later became (and retired in April as) the fiscal technician at UAA’s Community & Technical College, was part of the reason Chris decided to seek employment at UAA as well.
What will he miss most about campus? “The challenges each day brings, I’ll miss that a lot,” he says. “UAA has been a big part of my life. I’ve built a lot of relationships here.”
Chris has found that his roots have grown deep in the last 34 years and has no plans to move Outside for retirement. In fact, he and Suzette are just finishing up building their retirement home on the Kenai River. They’ll have a little more time for hunting and fishing in state, as well as doing some exploring out of state. On his bucket list is to visit all the U.S. national parks. And he’ll get started just as the beautiful green stretches of Alaska Bluegrass Nugget on campus are starting to frost with hints of snow…snow he won’t need to worry about plowing this year.