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UAF to celebrate 85th commencement

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: (907) 474-7902


The University of Alaska Fairbanks expects to confer 1,234 degrees to 1,185 students during its 85th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 13 at the Carlson Center. The university's first commencement took place in 1923, when the sole graduate, John Sexton Shanly, received his bachelor's degree in agriculture.

Preliminary figures show that 658 women and 527 men have applied for graduation; some students will receive more than one degree. The commencement ceremony includes graduates from summer and fall 2006 and spring 2007.

Dominique Loschiavo, 19, is this year's youngest graduate. Loschiavo is scheduled to receive a certificate in instrumentation technology. Dorothy M. Larson, 67, is this year's oldest graduate. She will receive a master's degree in rural development. UAF expects to award 179 certificates, 226 associate degrees, 538 bachelor's degrees and 220 master's degrees on Sunday. Thirty-five students are expected to receive doctoral degrees, while 36 students are expected to receive recommendation for education licensure. Several members of the University of Alaska Board of Regents will help UAF Chancellor Steve Jones confer degrees. UA President Mark Hamilton will also participate in the ceremony.

The Fairbanks Native Association Johnson O'Malley Potlatch Dancers will lead the processional. Graduates, faculty, honorary degree recipients and university officials will participate in the ceremony beginning at 1:20 p.m.

Retired Gen. Henry Hugh Shelton will give the keynote address. Shelton was the 14th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving from 1997-2001. He holds a bachelor's degree from North Carolina State University and a master's degree from Auburn University. Shelton, Athabascan elder Catherine Attla and atmospheric scientist Norbert Untersteiner will be awarded honorary degrees during the ceremony. In addition, UAF will honor the Rev. Edward J. Hartmann with the Meritorious Service Award.

The student speaker is Michael Wilkinson, who will be receiving a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. Wilkinson is this year's winner of the Joel Wiegert Award, given to recognize an outstanding senior man.

David Stech, professor of music, will serve as the procession's grand marshal. Stech is among 11 retiring faculty members who will be granted emeritus status on Sunday, a title given to those who have served the university with distinction in teaching, research and public service for at least 10 years.

Others receiving emeritus status are: Syun-Ichi Akasofu, professor of physics and International Arctic Research Center director; William Connor, clinical associate professor of psychology; Craig Lingle, research professor of geophysics; Dolores Garza, professor of fisheries; Wanda Martin, Academic Advising Center director; Peter McRoy, professor of marine science; Phyllis Morrow, professor of anthropology and dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Victoria Joan Moessner, professor of German; Paul Reichardt, professor of chemistry and provost; and Arvid Weflen, professor of aviation maintenance technology.

Commencement rehearsal for graduates is Saturday, May 12, at 10:30 a.m. at the Carlson Center. There will also be a picnic at the UAF Wood Center from 12:30-2:30 p.m. that day for graduates and their families and friends to celebrate with Chancellor Steve Jones and Judy Jones. Shelton will administer the oath of commissioning at UAF's ROTC commissioning ceremony Sunday, May 13, at 9 a.m. in the Davis Concert Hall. Shelton will be available immediately following the ceremony for media interviews. Graduation mass will take place in Schaible Auditorium Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Graduates, their families and UAF alumni are welcome to attend a reception hosted by the UAF Alumni Association in the Carlson Center's Pioneer Room immediately following Sunday's ceremony.

Note to editors: The expected number of degrees and students graduating reflects data compiled as of May 11, 2007.

CONTACT: UAF public information officer Marmian Grimes at (907) 474-7902 or (907) 460-4750 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@uaf.edu.

ON THE WEB: www.uaf.edu/commencement


MAY 13, 2007

The University of Alaska Fairbanks expects to confer 1,234 degrees to 1,185 students during its 85th commencement on Sunday, May 13 at the Carlson Center. The following profiles of a few graduates reflect the diversity and excellence of the 2007 graduating class.

Senior grad inspires generations of family members

Bristol Bay Campus graduate Dorothy M. Larson graduated from high school in 1957. On Sunday, she will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that milestone with another one: a long-awaited master's degree.

Larson, along with two of her friends, were among the first cohort of students to enter UAF's master's program in rural development in 2000. In January, the trio realized that they needed to finish the program soon or risk losing their credits. They started meeting for intensive work sessions and in March, two of the women headed for a timeshare in Reno for a master's project retreat.

"Day and night we worked on our stuff," Larson said. "I have never worked so hard on any classes in my life and I have been going to school for a long time, let me tell you."

Larson, UAF's oldest graduate this year, participated in the graduation ceremony in Dillingham and plans to attend the ceremony in Fairbanks, along with her two friends, who are also earning their degrees.

Larson said she wasn't sure about starting or finishing the degree, especially once she retired from her position as executive vice president at the Alaska Federation of Natives. But she had promised her daughter she would finish and the effort was worth it when she saw the pride in the eyes of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as she graduated.

"One of my grandsons came up to me and said, 'Grammy, I'm going to catch up with you,'" she said. "If I inspire him to go on to school " I'll be happy."

Outstanding senior excels in multiple endeavors

Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award winner Kelsey Alexander's UAF career has been marked by the diversity of her endeavors.

Alexander's academic emphasis has been on neuroscience and her research has focused on compulsive disorders. During the summers, she has also worked as a research assistant in various laboratories at UAF and as a research intern at the Alaska Sea Life Center. She recently participated in a medical internship exchange to India, and has been a regular volunteer at Science Potpourri, the College of Natural Science and Mathematics' annual community outreach event. In addition to her scientific pursuits, Alexander has been actively involved in the Honors Program and Pre-med Society at UAF, has been an orientation leader and peer mentor, and plays the violin with the North Star Strings, a nonprofit community orchestra. The Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award recognizes the outstanding senior woman.

Alexander will receive an interdisciplinary degree in experimental neuroscience at this year's commencement ceremony. After graduation, she plans to work as a research assistant and apply to medical school.

Commencement a milestone for father-son engineers

Father and son graduates Shirish and Samir Patil represent the bookends of engineering academia. Shirish, a petroleum engineering professor at UAF who holds a bachelor's degree and three master's degrees, is earning a doctorate in mineral resource engineering after an already notable career in higher education. His son, Samir is graduating with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and is preparing to embark on his career as an engineer. The duo will both participate in Sunday's commencement ceremony.

"We didn't plan it to be that way; it just turned out to be that way," said Shirish. "Samir is the eldest of two kids and the first to get a degree."

"I think it's pretty cool. I never expected it would happen," added Samir. "We're all proud of him. He definitely loves his job and this helps him open new doorways in his job."

After commencement, Samir will start a new job with an oil drilling company. Shirish was recently promoted to full professor and will continue his work at UAF. The entire Patil family is now looking forward to its youngest member, Mitali, receiving her dual degree in two years and heading to medical school.

"When she gets a UAF degree, the entire family will be UAF alumni, because my wife, Anjali, is also a UAF graduate with an M.S. in science management," Shirish said.

Tilly Award winner shoulders responsibilities with aplomb

Since she first started attending UAF in January 2002, Crystal Narow has intermittently taken care of her school-aged sister and has helped her biological grandparents, who raised her and whom she considers her parents, care for her brother. Throughout her time at UAF, Narow's younger siblings have lived with multiple instances of traumatic change and Narow has worked with her parents to mitigate that trauma. Oftentimes, that meant her academic work had to take the back seat to family. Since January 2006, Narow and her husband, Justin Earl, have been caring for her sister full time and recently welcomed a son to their family. While pursuing her studies and caring for her family, Narow has also been active both on campus and in the broader Fairbanks community.

Narow is earning a bachelor's degree in psychology at this year's commencement ceremony. She is this year's winner of the Gray S. Tilly Memorial Award, which recognizes a graduating senior whose education has been interrupted by family responsibilities.

Joel Wiegert Award winner blends coursework, research

Joel Wiegert Award winner and student commencement speaker Michael Wilkinson is slated to receive a bachelor's degree in biological sciences, with minor in chemistry.

He has been active in multiple extra- and co-curricular activities during his tenure at UAF, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average and earning more than $10,000 in undergraduate research awards for his work studying dietary differences and health issues in Alaska Natives.. He is in the UAF Honors Program and is a member of the UAF Pre-med Society, and he volunteers with United Campus Ministries, the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. From August 2006 to January 2007, he participated in a medical internship exchange to India and he spent the 2004-2005 academic year on a national student exchange to Western Washington University. The Joel Wiegert Award recognizes the outstanding senior man.

After graduation, Wilkinson plans to attend medical school, where he hopes to study pediatrics and family medicine.

Class of 2007 profile

The following statistics provide a snapshot of UAF's 2007 graduating class. Please be aware that these are only preliminary numbers, current as of May 11, 2007. Final statistics will not be available until after commencement. With that in mind, here's this year's class profile:

" 1,234 degrees expected to be conferred on 1,185 students:

179 certificates
226 associate degrees
538 bachelor's degrees
220 master's degrees
35 doctorates

" 658 women graduating (56%); 527 men (44%)

" Number of graduates from Alaska: 961 (81%), out-of-state: 145 (12%), international: 79 (7%)

" Minority breakdown:

212 Alaska Native (17.9%)
12 American Indian (1%)
30 Asian (2.5%)
29 Black (2.4%)
30 Hispanic (2.5%)
38 Other (3.2%)
79 International (6.7%)
755 White (63.7%)

" Youngest graduate is 19; oldest graduate is 67.

" Average age of class: 31.5

2007 schedule for media

Following is a schedule of commencement-weekend activities, including media availabilities. Asterisked times are estimated.

Saturday, May 12

10:30 a.m.--Commencement rehearsal at the Carlson Center
12:30-2:30 p.m.--Graduate picnic at Wood Center

Sunday, May 13

9 a.m.--ROTC commissioning ceremony and reception at Davis Concert Hall
*10:30 a.m.--Gen. Henry Hugh Shelton media availability outside Davis Concert Hall
10:30 a.m.--Graduation mass at Schaible Auditorium
Noon--Carlson center opens for guest seating
12:20 p.m.--Graduates line up at Carlson Center
12:45 p.m.--Faculty, administrators and stage party line up
1:20 p.m.--Academic procession begins
1:30 p.m.--Ceremony begins
*4:30 p.m.--Reception begins in Pioneer Room at Carlson Center