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About PWSC

Prince William Sound College (PWSC) is a one-of-a-kind institution of higher education located in Valdez, Alaska. The main campus and its extension sites in Cordova and Copper Basin are set amidst some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery and rich cultural history. PWSC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities through the University of Alaska Anchorage. Besides a general studies degree, PWSC offers associate degrees and occupational certificates not readily available elsewhere, such as Millwright, Safety Management, and Outdoor Leadership.

With NO OUT-OF-STATE TUITION, Prince William Sound College makes attending college in Alaska affordable. Our student population of less than 1,000 students embodies out-of-state and international students, distance learners, rural students, and resident students living in housing.

Many factors make PWSC your college of choice. Small class sizes, a close-knit campus community, and one-on-one interaction with staff and faculty shape a unique learning experience. PWSC resident housing affords students the opportunity to live independently in fully furnished apartments among their peers. Recreational opportunities abound for outdoor enthusiasts in the nearby mountains, waterways, and glaciers.

PWSC Campus and Extension Site Locations

Main Campus in Valdez, AK

Valdez is located on the magnificent Prince William Sound, a fjord formed by retreating glaciers. It is a paradise for any outdoor enthusiast or nature lover. Behind the town of Valdez is the Chugach Range, where Keystone Canyon and Thompson Pass provide access to breathtaking waterfalls, hanging glaciers, mountain hiking, and backcountry skiing access.

The Copper Basin Extension Site is located in Glennallen, approximately 120 miles up the road from Valdez. In the heart of the Copper River Basin, Glennallen and its neighboring communities are the gateway to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the largest national park in the country!

The Cordova Extension site is located in Cordova, a quaint fishing village on Prince William Sound. Though Cordova is only 75 miles away from Valdez, the town is only accessible by boat or plane. Cordova is surrounded by hemlock and spruce trees on the northern edge of a temperate rain forest.

PWSC Mission Statement

The mission of Prince William Sound College is to use its unique resources and magnificent landscape to enrich the lives of our students and our communities.

Located in Valdez, Alaska, with centers in Cordova and the Copper River Basin, PWSC provides access to a variety of educational and training opportunities in a geographically rich, culturally diverse, and inclusive environment.

Prince William Sound College attracts people with an adventuresome spirit who want to combine the love of outdoor activities with the opportunity to achieve their academic and career goals.

As a community campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage, PWSC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to offer college level courses and programs, both on-campus and on-line, leading to occupational endorsements, Associate of Arts, and Associate of Applied Science degrees.

PWSC Accreditation

PWSC, as a college of the University of Alaska Anchorage, is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Accreditation by this Commission enables the College to offer college level courses and programs leading to Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees as well as to certificates. The College also offers a limited number of upper division undergraduate and graduate courses. Accreditation documentation may be viewed by the public by contacting the Campus Director’s office.

PWSC Strategic Planning

The governance committees are charged each year with developing planning documents for their respective areas. Included in the planning documents are recommendations to be submitted for prioritization. Academic and non-academic programs are charged each year to produce program reviews. Included in the program reviews are recommendations to be submitted for prioritization. The Institutional Effectiveness Committee (IEC) collects and prioritizes recommendations received from governance committee’s academic programs and non-academic programs. The committee produces a report of prioritized recommendations for the college director.

The college director and the cabinet review the governance committee planning documents, program reviews, and the IEC prioritization report. The information from these documents are used to develop strategic goals, division goals, and committee charges.

Strategic goals for 2016-2017 are developed to be in alignment with the University of Alaska’s “Shaping Alaska’s Future” and University of Alaska Anchorage’s “Strategic Plan 2012-2017,” and the Prince William Sound College mission.

Strategic Goals for 2016 – 2017

As Prince William Sound College transitions to better align with the University of Alaska Anchorage and take full advantage of the opportunities and efficiencies which that partnership provides are pleased to share Strategic Goals for 2016 – 2017:

  1. Optimize opportunities to bring the PWSC mission statement alive:
    • Integrate Student Government, Campus Life, the Health & Fitness Center, and the Outdoor Leadership program to maximize the Alaska experience for students, faculty, staff, and the community.
    • Create a framework where students can be involved in community and campus activities and events that strengthen their sense of civic engagement.
    • Provide special interest programming for a variety of audiences to drive activity at all campus locations.
  2. Expand critical academic and career programs.
    • Enhance and improve the capacity of existing academic programs.
    • Develop programs that strengthen workforce development and training.
    • Provide new options for students that can reduce the time it takes for students to complete pre-collegiate courses.
  3. Implement practices to improve instructional programs.
    • Deploy high quality interactive resources for distance learning with high schools, remote students, and our Copper Basin and Cordova sites.
    • Develop and implement a scheduling pattern that maximizes enrollment and student-faculty ratios.
    • Implement intrusive strategies to improve online and blended learning experiences.
  4. Strengthen and expand partnerships with K-12 schools.
    • Create a consistent presence at events sponsored by the school districts in Valdez, Cordova, and Glennallen.
    • Develop and implement a schedule that maximizes dual enrolled classes and student-faculty ratios.
    • Create options for sharing physical, educational, and instructional staff resources.
    • Further develop opportunities for K-12 teachers to complete professional development credits.
  5. Improve processes to ensure a sustainable future for the college.
    • Utilize enrollment management practices to increase enrollments and ensure student success, retention, and completion.
    • Support ongoing efforts by Enrollment Management committee, Student Affairs division, and other outreach program areas to increase visibility and enhance the image of PWSC in all communities in our service area.
    • Continually refine the program review and assessment plans to ensure continuous quality improvement.
    • Utilize College governance structures and UA/UAA data resources to link all aspects of planning, budgeting, and strategic decision-making.

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Strategic Planning Records

University of Alaska’s Strategic Planning Documents:

Shaping AK’s Future – Effecting Higher Ed Transformation

PWSCC’s Strategic Planning Documents:

Strategic Plan Draft 2012-2017

PWSC Governance Committees

PWSC Governance Committees have been organized to fulfill specific charges and strategic planning.

Governance Committees:

  • Academic Planning and Curriculum Committee
  • College Council
  • Enrollment Management Committee
  • Facilities Committee
  • Institutional Effectiveness Committee
  • Student Body Government
  • Technology Committee

Operational Committees:

  • Academic Affairs
    • Library Committee
    • Developmental Education Committee
    • Continuing Education
  • Student Affairs
    • Student Appeals Committee
    • Campus Life Committee
    • Scholarship Committee
  • Administrative Services
    • Safety Committee
    • Staff Development Committee

College Council

The purpose of the College Council is to advise the College Director and the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska in the manner in which the University of Alaska might best serve the constituency of Prince William Sound College.

Authority of the Council

Prince William Sound College is duly constituted pursuant to Board of Regents’ Policy 02.04.01 which authorizes the establishment of community college councils in order to maximize local community and regional participation in planning and budgeting processes and to provide for local program review. Consistent with this policy, the Prince William Sound College Council is authorized to:

  1. Approve the selection of and concur in the retention of the Campus Director;
  2. Review and recommend approval or disapproval of new programs before their submission to the Board of regents;
  3. Review and recommend approval or disapproval of the annual plan for the College before its submission to the Board of Regents;
  4. Review and recommend approval or disapproval of the annual proposed operating and capital budget requests before their submission to the Board of Regents;
  5. Establish policies to meet unique local needs consistent with Board of Regents’ Policy and University Regulations;
  6. Review and recommend changes to statewide policies and regulations;
  7. Assign a representative to meet at least once a year with the Board of Regents and UA President.

The College Council meets at least twice a semester.

Council Members
  • Mark Swanson – President (Valdez)
  • Michelle Anderson (Copper Basin)
  • Patience Andersen-Faulkner (Cordova)
  • Marnie Graham (Copper Basin)
  • Bob Crumley (Tatitlek, Whittier)
  • Scott Hicks (Valdez)
  • Michael Johnson (Copper Basin)
  • Joseph Lally (Valdez)
  • Jim Nygaard (Valdez)
  • Jeremy O’Neil (Valdez)
  • Alex Russian (Cordova)
  • Pam Shirrell (Valdez)
  • Mike Wells (Valdez)

Leadership Team

College Director

Dr. Dan O’Connor
College Director

Cabinet Members

Ryan Belnap
Assistant to the Director
Susan Harding
Director of the Cordova Extension Center
Ana Hinkle
Director of Student Affairs
Dawson Moore
Assistant to the Director
Steve Shiell
Director of Administrative Services


For more information on how to apply for admission, please visit our Admission page, or contact the Office of Admission.

PWSC Office of Admission

Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. AKST

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Affordable Tuition

At PWSC we do not charge out-of-state tuition. Click below for more information on the cost of attendance.

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Degree Programs

PWSC offers associate degrees and occupational certificates not readily available elsewhere, such as Millwright, Safety Management, and Outdoor Leadership. Click below to learn about degree programs at PWSC.

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Last modified: December 9, 2016, modified by Jessica Young