May 2013

Dear UAA Community,

This is the most exciting time of year as we celebrate the graduation of 2,315 UAA students, who will earn 2,421 degrees and certificates. Commencement celebrations are being held on our Anchorage, Mat-Su, Kenai, Kachemak Bay, Kodiak and Prince William Sound campuses.

Here's some facts about this year's graduates.

The top five majors that we will award degrees from are:

  • Associate of Arts, General Program
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Associates of Applied Science in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Business Administration inManagement

Last month UAA hosted the first statewide Alaska Native Studies conference attended by more than 300 people. One thing we learned is that throughout the country there are fewer than 60 Alaska Natives who hold Ph.D.s, but UAA is poised to add one more.

This year, UAA will award two Ph.D.'s in the Joint UAA-UAF Clinical Community Psychology Ph.D. program: Ruth Zuniga and Alaska Native Tina Marie Woods.

Behind every degree is an amazing story and Tina Woods' story includes receiving her high school diploma after attending six different high schools: St. Paul High on St. Paul Island; Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka; Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Ore.; East, West and Bartlett High Schools in Anchorage. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology in 1999 from UAA and worked at various organizations throughout Alaska including North Star, Akeela Inc., Cook Inlet Tribal Council and eventually  the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association where she was recruited to be the Wellness Program Director. In her second year of the program she said the only thing that kept her going:  "deep down in my heart and soul, it's the love I have for the Alaska Native people."  She was also elected chair of the Statewide Tribal Behavioral Health Directors committee.

When she heard that UAA had a Ph.D. program in clinical community psychology with a rural indigenous emphasis, she knew she had to do it. Tina was already enrolled in a master's in public health administration program at UAA, but the Ph.D. with a "rural indigenous emphasis" tugged at her heart. Even though she never thought of herself as someone who would go beyond a master's, much less a bachelor's degree, she had to apply.

UAA's Ph.D. candidates are just two of 2,315 graduates this year. Look for this Sunday's article in the Anchorage Daily News for more amazing stories about our graduates as well as an in depth look at this year's graduating class.

Commencement notes

Emeritus/Emerita will be conferred on:
Hilary Davies, Professor Emerita of Mathematics
Michael Turner, Professor Emeritus of Counseling

Honorary Degrees recognize a lifetime of outstanding creativity, scholarship and service.
Emil Notti, Honorary Doctor of Laws
Tom Sexton, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Meritorious Service Awards recognize significant public, academic, volunteer or philanthropic service.
Jane Angvik
Carol Swartz
David Wight
Pat Wolf

I AM UAA: Kelsey Waldorf

The 2013 Student Commencement speaker Kelsey Waldorf, a justice major from Homer,  is a member of the University Honors College and participates in the 49th State Fellows program.

Faculty and Staff notes

Please join me in welcoming our new president of Prince William Sound Community College Dr. Jacob Ng.

Allison "Sunny" Mall received the Selkregg Community Engagement & Service Learning Award ($5,000). A Mathematics Professor in the Masters of Arts in Teaching Program, Prof. Mall is partnering with the Alaska Council of Teachers of Mathematics & the Alaska Science Teachers Association in "Engaging Secondary Mathematics Teachers in Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice."

UAA is initiating a search for a director of the Office of International and Intercultural Affairs, renamed in response to the 2012-2013 International and Intercultural Task Force.  College of Business and Public Policy Dean Rashmi Prasad is chairing the search committee.

UAA in the World

Seawolf Athletics note

Four finalists have been chosen in the search for a new Seawolf Hockey coach: Chris Brown, Michael Corbett, Gary Heenan and Damon Whitten. Each of the four are participating in public forums in the search process. This is an opportunity to strengthen Seawolf Hockey, a top priority for us. I have been in personal communication with Seawolf hockey supporters. All want to see Seawolf hockey thrive. Opinions vary on how best to achieve that goal and I appreciate the dialogue.


Innovation and research notes

UAA launched its first ever startup company, Zensor.  Zensor LLC, a Seawolf Holdings company established by UAA Provost for Research and graduate Studies Dr. Helena Wisniewski and faculty inventor Dr. John Lund, UAA electrical engineering professor, offers a new generation of wireless sensors for use in remote monitoring, asset management and surveillance and security.

Rep. Don Young visited UAA, at the invitation of Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Helena Wisniewski, on April 29 and received a briefing on research and technology innovations. The congressman was impressed by the range and possibilities for practical application of UAA research.

Student notes

Sarah, Ryan and Alma

Ryan Bergerson and Alma Abaza, civil engineering majors, received the Dr. Alex Hills Engineering and Civic Engagement Award ($2,500) for their work researching the use of porous concrete in Alaska.

Sarah McHenry, who  earned a degree in cultural anthropology and is now majoring in sociology, received the Second Bridge Scholarship Award ($1,000) to investigate the similarities between rural indigenous populations of Nepal and rural indigenous populations of Alaska with a focus on community building.

Lucy Hansen, Office Technology major, is being recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change . The Champions of Change program honors a group of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to their communities, fellow citizens and the country.

Kenai Peninsula College (KPC) has placed two teams from their process technology program in the 2nd Annual National Troubleshooting Simulator Competition. KPC's teams are two of eight teams that advanced from regional competition to the national finals.

Snodgras Hall

Community Square note

UAA's Resilience and Adaptive Management Group (RAM) hosted a training workshop bringing together 135 K-12 students and 19 teachers from across the Anchorage School District at the ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building for hands-on activities designed to introduce new ways to educate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. RAM received a NASA Space Grant to host the workshop.


Student Affairs Note

Student Affairs hosted its first New Staff Orientation to welcome 19 new staff to the Division of Student Affairs.

UAA spring cleanup note

More than 80 volunteers and 14 staff from the Landscaping department  picked up auto parts, cigarette butts, construction materials and other trash around campus that filled 104 trash bags, with an estimated weight of 2,000 pounds. Thank you for helping keep our campus clean.

Christine Byl, a 2006 graduate of UAA's Master of Fine Arts Program, is the author of a new book, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods, published by Beacon Press.

Dirt Work book cover

Development note

Northrim Bank gave a $100,000 gift to support the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) initiative "Investing for Alaska's Future," directed by Scott Goldsmith, ISER professor emeritus. More here.

As we close out the spring semester and celebrate graduation, I want to commend our UAA community for the great work that is being accomplished every day. Thank you for all you contribute to the amazing stories being written every day.

Go Seawolves!

Best regards,


Tom Case

Tom Case