| 03.21.2018

The next step


After ten years at the University of Idaho, risk management officer Nancy Spink will become the chief risk officer for University of Alaska System.


For a decade, it has been Nancy Spink's job as risk management officer to keep the University of Idaho out of legal hot water. Now she is moving on to take a job at the University of Alaska. joseph engle | summer arg

“I am very excited. I’m going to report directly to President Gamble and live in Fairbanks which is 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle so that’s going to be a big change,” Spink said. “I’m going to work with them on their Enterprise Risk Management System. They’re a little further ahead of us here and so they have established an enterprise risk system.”

Ron Smith, UI Vice President for Finance and Administration said Spink will leave a significant hole when she leaves for Alaska.

“She’s been here for about ten years and during that time she’s done a great job of taking risk management and making it less reactionary and more preventative,” Smith said.

Spink, a California native, spent the last 30 years in Idaho first as a teacher and then in the risk management field.

“I actually trained to be a teacher for English and History but that was at a time when everybody wanted to teach so I couldn’t get a job teaching,” Spink said. “I got a job as a permanent substitute which I thought was a funny title and so I went in and they asked me if I’d like to become an underwriter and it turned out to be a lot of fun and I never looked back.”

Spink then became involved in agency work, which she found exciting.

“I worked my way up into various agencies and was working with a large agency in Boise and from there took this job up here,” Spink said.

In her time at UI Spink has worked on claims ranging from cloned mules to natural disasters and critical incidents.

“I’ve dealt with everything in my time and for a period of time here I was the emergency manager for the university as well as the risk manager,” Spink said. “It has only been in the last couple of years that we had a separate emergency manager as well. It wouldn’t be me handling the whole thing but I might be the first point of contact and then try to call people and put a team together and say, you know, ‘we need to handle this’ and make sure people are.”

Spink said she is excited for the work she will be doing in Alaska with the enterprise risk management system.

“Despite the fact that it was in Fairbanks, I was very interested in the position because it was a very logical next step for me,” Spink said. “The role of the risk management department there is to act as a resource and help that risk owner try to deal with it and find the best ways to try to deal with it. That’s an interesting way to work on risk…it’s a very proactive approach. The work they’re doing is at a higher level and more extensive than work at UI.”

The University of Alaska system is comprised of three major universities and seven extended sites throughout the state.

“I had been looking for something in the enterprise risk management area. That is the only thing that would have pulled me away from the University of Idaho because I really liked my work here,” Spink said.

“I’ve been very interested in enterprise risk management and we have actually started it here.”

Risk specialist Carry Salonen will continue Spink’s work on UI’s enterprise risk management system.

“It will just be a direct transition because I’ll just build on everything that I’ve learned here and expand it further up in Alaska,” Spink said. “I think the thing that I’m going to take with me the most is the professional relationship that I’ve had with Carry. In risk management it’s all about teamwork. You don’t do anything by yourself and it’s just been a terrific team to work with.”

Spink was also responsible for a $500,000 Emergency Management in Higher Education grant that allowed UI to bring additional risk management personnel, including Matt Dorschell, Emergency Management Director.

“It was like watching the university in fast forward on emergency management and getting policies in place,” Spink said. “We’ve grown departments and allowed them to spin off. It’s really great to see all the growth that’s been able to happen.”

The grant also allowed for the zombie emergency defense videos that promoted awareness for the UI alert system.

“It worked so well that we ended up having to pay extra that year for all the changes that occurred,” Spink said.

Smith said the process to fill Spink’s position has already begun but said he does not know if the university will be able to find someone with as much experience.

“She’s done a lot. She’s always part of the risk assessment. She’s in charge of risk assessment procedures and developing plans to mitigate those risks,” Smith said. “But she’s getting a significant increase in title and salary. She will be missed.”

Spink said she is looking forward to a new chapter in her life.

“I’m really footloose right now and it’s a good step but I’m going to miss the people,” Spink said.

Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at argonaut@uidaho.edu

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