Iḷisaġvik College Board of Trustees makes offer for position of Iḷisaġvik College President, Extends President Pearl Brower’s Current Contract

UTQIAĠVIK (Barrow), AK (June 8, 2020) On June 4th, 2020 the Iḷisaġvik College Board of Trustees, selected Justina Wilhelm, current Vice President of Administration, for the position of President.  The next step in the process of appointing the new President will be contract negotiations between the Board and VP Wilhelm.   This follows President Pearl Brower’s resignation announcement last fall, after 13 years of distinguished service, with 8 in the position of President. 

“The Iḷisaġvik College Board of Trustees is very fortunate to be able to offer the position of President to Justina Wilhelm.  The College will surely grow and prosper under her direction, as an active participant in our cultural way of life and part of the fabric of our Iñupiaq community. Sending you best of wishes for a successful, enjoyable, and many happy years as our new President,” said Lillian Lane, Chair of Iḷisaġvik’s Board of Trustees. 

President Brower’s contract will be extended until September 30, 2020.  At that time President Brower will transition into an advisory capacity supporting the new President until January 2021.  Due to COVID-19, it is important to the Board of Trustees and President Brower to ensure a smooth transition in this time of uncertainty.  The announcement concludes a national search with a number of qualified candidates from across the country.

A lifelong resident Utqiaġvik, Wilhelm is the product of the North Slope Borough School District.  After graduating from Barrow High School, Wilhelm obtained a Bachelor’s of Sociology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, followed by a Master’s in Social Work in 2018 from the University of New England.  Wilhelm has worked the entirety of her career on the North Slope, including 14 years with the North Slope Borough Health Department working in various capacities, including with direct service delivery and compliance, followed by seven years as the Deputy Director of Behavioral Health.  In 2017, Wilhelm joined Iḷisaġvik College as Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, before being promoted to Dean of Institutional Advancement, and most recently, Vice President of Administration.  

A community leader since her high school days, Wilhelm continues to be actively engaged in the region.  This includes her service on various boards such as the North Slope Borough School District School Advisory Council, North Slope Borough Personnel Hearing Board, Arctic Women in Crisis Board, Eben Hopson Memorial Scholarship Committee, and her service on the Utqiaġvik City Council.   Wilhelm is married to Whaling Captain Ross Makalik Wilhelm and, together, they have four children: Madison, Gabriel, Juliana, and Hunter. Wilhelm says that while she is privileged and honored to wear so many hats over the years, she most enjoys spending time with her family which includes partaking in subsistence activities and family vacations.

“We thank all of the candidates and the other finalist for the opportunity to have the conversation about what the future leadership looks like at Iḷisaġvik College. I wholeheartedly endorse Vice President Wilhelm for the position and know she will bring considerable energy, talent, perspective and cultural experience to the role of President of Iḷisaġvik College,” said President Brower. 


Iḷisaġvik College | External Affairs

Cordelia Kellie

Direct: 907.982.0846


About Iḷisaġvik College Iḷisaġvik College is Alaska’s only tribal college and is located in the northernmost village in the United States, Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow). Iḷisaġvik College provides quality post-secondary academic, vocational and technical education in a learning environment that perpetuates and strengthens Iñupiat culture, language, values and traditions. It is dedicated to serving its students and developing a well-educated and trained workforce who meet the human resource needs of North Slope employers and the state of Alaska.