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UAF to celebrate 86th commencement

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902


Photo caption below.
UAF photo by Todd Paris, Marketing and Communications
Members of UAF's class of 2007 applaud during the commencement ceremony in the Carlson Center.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks expects to confer 1,185 degrees on 1,125 students during its 86th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 11 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 615 women and 510 men have applied for graduation; some students will receive more than one degree. The commencement ceremony includes graduates from summer and fall 2007 and spring 2008.

UAF expects to award 200 certificates, 250 associate degrees, 470 bachelor's degrees and 205 master's degrees on Sunday. Twenty-nine students are expected to receive doctoral degrees, while 31 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 Downriver Singers will lead the processional. Graduates, faculty, honorary degree recipients and university officials will participate in the ceremony beginning at 1:20 p.m.

Alaska writer laureate and mystery author John Straley will give the keynote address. Straley is the author of seven mystery novels set in Alaska. The inaugural work in his Cecil Younger series, 1992's "The Woman Who Married a Bear," won the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Award for best first private investigator novel. Straley, former McNeil River State Game Sanctuary manager Larry Aumiller, Native art expert Bill Holm and Alaska aviator and businessman Richard Wien will be awarded honorary degrees during the ceremony.

The student speaker is Cameron Poindexter, who will be receiving a bachelor's degree in business administration. Poindexter, originally from Homer, was a resident assistant and an assistant resident director during his time at UAF and is graduating with leadership honors.

Ed Murphy, professor of biology and wildlife, will serve as the procession's grand marshal. Murphy 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: Roy Bird, professor of English and honors program director; Lillian Corti, professor of English; Stephen Cysewski, professor of computer applications; John Eichelberger, professor of geology and geophysics; Don Kramer, professor of fisheries; Sheri Layral, governance coordinator and Faculty Senate secretary; Shusun Li, research professor of geophysics; Sue McHenry, academic advisor; Laura Milner, professor of business administration; and Mitch Roth, professor of computer science.

Commencement rehearsal for graduates is Saturday, May 10, at 10:30 a.m. at the Carlson Center. There will also be a picnic that day from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the UAF Wood Center for graduates and their families and friends to celebrate with Chancellor Steve Jones and Judy Jones. 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 2008 student stories

Double major overcomes tragedy, finds new passion for sustainability
Katherine Keith always knew she would someday own a bush plane, eat caribou and live in rural Alaska. After a year of college at the University of Minnesota, she moved to Kotzebue to pursue that dream. She and her husband built a home and started a family while living a subsistence lifestyle. The deaths of her husband and eldest child turned her life in a different direction. While she was committed to remaining in the home they had built together and living off the land with her remaining daughter, Keith saw global events risking the ecosystem around her and she wanted to make a difference. She decided to return to school. She is graduating with bachelor's degrees in renewable energy engineering and computational physics. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in power system engineering and use her education to help create sustainable communities and resolve energy challenges. Keith is the 2008 winner of the Gray S. Tilly Memorial Award, which recognizes a graduating senior whose education was interrupted by family responsibilities.

Wiegert Award winner notable as volunteer and scholar
William Pfeifer, Jr. is known on campus for his dedication to volunteerism and his passion for his field of study. Pfeifer is the 2008 recipient of the Joel Wiegert Award, which recognizes the outstanding graduating senior man. He is receiving a bachelor's degree in computer science. During his time at UAF, he has received numerous scholarships and awards and has participated in many programs that improve student life. He was a tutor for the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and ministered through the Campus Catholic Ministry. He was a volunteer conference speaker for the National Indian Education Association and a member of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, UAF chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the UAF chapter of ANSEP and the Information Assurance Club. After graduation, Pfeifer is planning to spend the summer in New York completing an internship with TJ Watson Research Center. He will attend Purdue University in the fall to pursue a graduate degree in computer science.

Mechanical engineering major honored with Boswell Award
Throughout her college career, Larae Minteer's peers and professors have viewed her as a leader and an exceptional student. Minteer, who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, is this year's recipient of the Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award, which recognizes the outstanding graduating senior woman. Minteer was the 2007 mechanical engineering outstanding student of the year and has been on the chancellor's list for multiple semesters. She has been an active member of the Society of Women Engineers and president of engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, in addition to volunteering with Engineering Career Week and Habitat for Humanity. In the classroom, professors describe her as a leader and positive role model who helps her team excel. Minteer is applying for engineering jobs; she plans to remain in Fairbanks and begin work shortly after graduation.

Student speaker shows natural aptitude for leadership
It didn't take Cameron Poindexter long to rocket to leadership roles within the campus community. Poindexter, who is receiving a bachelor's degree in business administration and is this year's commencement speaker, stood out almost immediately in his classes and campus organizations. As a sophomore, he was hired as a resident assistant, taking on a challenging role for a man: RA on an all-female floor. Midway through the same year, he took on additional duties supervising the desk attendants. By the following year, he had been promoted to assistant resident director, a job usually reserved for graduate students with education or counseling backgrounds. In the classroom, both his classmates and professors recognized his engaging personality and natural leadership abilities. His work ethic translated to success in his internship, where his supervisors had enough confidence in him to ask him to present his work to the CEOs of three sister companies. Poindexter is graduating with leadership honors.

Class of 2008 profile

The following statistics provide a snapshot of UAF's 2008 graduating class. Please be aware that these are only preliminary numbers, current as of May 9, 2008. Final statistics will not be available until after commencement. With that in mind, here's this year's class profile:

1,185 degrees expected to be conferred on approximately 1,125 students:

" 200 certificates
" 250 associate degrees
" 470 bachelor's degrees
" 205 master's degrees
" 29 doctorates
" 31 recommendations for education licensure

615 women graduating (55%); 510 men (45%)

Minority breakdown:

" 235 Alaska Native/American Indian (20%)
" 40 Asian (4%)
" 30 Black (3%)
" 30 Hispanic (3%)
" 30 Other (3%)
" 60 International (5%)
" 700 White (62%)

Youngest graduate is 18; oldest graduate is 66.

Average age of class: 31

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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