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UAF to celebrate 87th commencement

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902


Photo caption below.
UAF photo by Todd Paris
Graduates applaud during the 2008 commencement ceremony.
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The University of Alaska Fairbanks expects to confer 1,179 degrees on 1,121 students during its 87th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 10 at the Carlson Center. The university's first commencement took place in 1923, when the sole graduate, John Sexton Shanly, received a bachelor's degree in agriculture.

Preliminary figures show that 641 women and 480 men have applied for graduation; some students will receive more than one degree. The commencement ceremony includes graduates from summer and fall 2008 and spring 2009.

UAF expects to award one occupational endorsement, 125 certificates, 229 associate degrees, 576 bachelor's degrees and 179 master's degrees on Sunday. Thirty-seven students are expected to receive doctoral degrees, the highest number in UAF's history, while 32 are expected to receive recommendation for education licensure. Graduates range in age from 18 to 69 and the average age is 31. Several members of the University of Alaska Board of Regents will help UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers confer degrees. UA President Mark Hamilton will also participate in the ceremony.

The Dillingham High School Yup'ik Dance Club will lead the processional. Graduates, faculty members, honorary degree recipients and university officials will participate in the ceremony beginning at 1:20 p.m.

Alaska state constitutional delegate Vic Fischer will give the keynote address. Fischer has been involved in Alaska policy issues for nearly six decades. He was active in the statehood movement and was a delegate to Alaska's Constitutional Convention in 1955-56. He served as a member of the Alaska Territorial Legislature from 1957-58 and later as a state senator from 1981-86.

UAF will award three honorary degrees during the commencement ceremony. This year's honorary degree recipients are oil-drilling engineer Ted Stagg, Yup'ik elder and storyteller Annie Cungauyar Blue and Mike Stepovich, Alaska's last territorial governor.

The student speaker is Jennifer Williams, who will be receiving a bachelor's degree in business administration. Williams is president of the UAF Associated Students of Business and is graduating with leadership honors.

Julia "Judie" Triplehorn, associate professor of library science, will serve as the procession's grand marshal. Triplehorn is among 11 retiring faculty and staff members who will be granted emeritus status on Sunday, a title given to those who have served the university with distinction for at least 10 years.

Others receiving emeritus status are: Joan Braddock, professor of biology and dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; John Craven, professor of physics; Michael Schuldiner, professor of English; William Smoker, professor of fisheries; Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley, associate professor of education; Aldona Jonaitis, director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North; Helga Wilm, executive officer of the International Arctic Research Center; Mary Earp, associate professor of developmental English; Molly Lee, professor of anthropology and curator; and Jerah Chadwick, professor of general and developmental studies.

Commencement rehearsal for graduates is Saturday, May 9, at 10:30 a.m. at the Carlson Center. There will also be a picnic that day from 12:30-2 p.m. at the UAF Wood Center for graduates and their families and friends to celebrate with Chancellor Brian Rogers and Sherry Modrow. Graduation mass will take place Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Schaible Auditorium.

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

Class of 2009 student stories

Psychology graduate honored for perseverance

Yvette Curtis Towery dropped out of high school at age 17, when her son was born. She was able to finish high school after his birth and enrolled in classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage. After two semesters, she could no longer afford to remain in college and went to work. Nearly two decades later, her son was grown and she returned to college at UAF as a full-time student. Towery is receiving a bachelor's degree in psychology at this year's commencement ceremony. Her professors and advisors say she is a natural leader in her classes and the campus community. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Golden Key International Honor Society. This year, she was elected president of the Psi Chi National Honor Society and the UAF Psychology Club. She also volunteers as a mentor and tutor at Effie Kokrine Charter School. After graduation, Towery plans to pursue master's and doctoral degrees. She is this year's recipient of the Gray S. Tilly Memorial Award, which recognizes a graduating senior whose education has been interrupted by family responsibilities.

Wiegert Award winner excels on the ice, in classroom, community

Joel Wiegert Award-winner Trevor Hyatt is slated to receive a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at UAF's commencement ceremony May 10. Hyatt has maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout his time as a student at UAF and will graduate from the UAF Honors Program. In 2008, he was nominated as a Rhodes Scholar. In addition to his academic achievements, Hyatt is recognized for his athletic accomplishments as a member of the Alaska Nanooks hockey team. He was named a CCHA Scholar-Athlete for 2006 through 2008, was a Hockey Humanitarian nominee in 2007 and 2008, and was voted to the Lowe's Senior CLASS Second Team All-American. Hyatt is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon and the American Society of Civil Engineers, and he volunteers with a variety of local organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity and Denali Center.

Boswell Award winner gets early start on research career

Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award winner Alice Orlich will receive a bachelor's degree in geography at this year's commencement ceremony. She is known among her professors not only for her academic abilities but also for her leadership among fellow students and her willingness to help her peers understand academic concepts. Orlich has received multiple awards and scholarships during her undergraduate career, in addition to working as a student research assistant. Her fieldwork included time at a spring ice camp in the Beaufort Sea and two summers aboard an icebreaker in the Arctic Ocean. She is the author of a chapter on field logistics and safety in a book, "Handbook of Sea Ice Field Research Techniques," which will be used in future UAF courses. After graduation, she plans to work as a research assistant and pursue a graduate degree.

Student speaker a standout for dynamic leadership, tenacity

During her one-year tenure as president of UAF's Associated Students of Business, student speaker Jennifer Williams is credited with breathing new life into the group. She led a team of officers who gave dozens of speeches in front of UAF classes. Her efforts have paid off: participation in ASB has nearly quadrupled this year, according to fellow ASB officer Amber Hannum. Williams also represented the student group at local events and helped spearhead a new networking event that allowed students to meet with local business leaders and gain both connections and mentors for their studies and future careers. Williams will receive a bachelor's degree in business administration at Sunday's commencement ceremonies. She has worked toward her degree off and on for a dozen years while working full time. In 2007, she was able to return to school full time to complete her degree. "The last four semesters at UAF have provided me with character-building experiences that I will never regret," Williams says. "I hope that the students I have had the pleasure to work with and the students whom I have touched with my excitement about ASB see me as someone to look up to and emulate as they move through their career at this great institution and beyond."

Class of 2009 profile

The following statistics provide a snapshot of UAF's 2009 graduating class. Please be aware that these are only preliminary numbers, current as of May 8, 2009. Final statistics will not be available until after commencement. With that in mind, here's this year's class profile:

1,179 degrees expected to be conferred on approximately 1,121 students:

1 occupational endorsement
125 certificates
229 associate degrees
576 bachelor's degrees
179 master's degrees
37 doctorates
32 recommendations for education licensure

641 women graduating and 480 men

Minority breakdown:

166 Alaska Native/American Indian
47 Asian
35 Black
38 Hispanic
44 Other
51 International
740 White

Youngest graduate is 18; oldest graduate is 69

Average age of class: 31

2009 schedule for media

Following is a schedule of commencement-weekend activities. Asterisked times are estimated.

Saturday, May 9

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

Sunday, May 10

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 Arthur Buswell Pioneer Room at Carlson Center

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

ON THE WEB: www.uaf.edu/commencement


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