UAA holds largest ever Commencement Ceremony - May 6, 2007

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Carol Comeau, Dr. Tom Nighswander and Dr. Arlon R. Tussing will receive honorary degrees in front of largest graduating class in UAA history.

The University of Alaska Anchorage's spring graduating class of more than 2,400 students is the largest in the university's history, a 20 percent increase in graduates over last year.  A packed house of family and friends is expected at the Sullivan Arena to cheer on the hundreds who will walk across the stage during Commencement exercises beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 6.

Commencement is the University of Alaska Anchorage's capstone event celebrating the achievements of its students and the lifetime achievements of extraordinary faculty and community members.  UAA Chancellor Elaine P. Maimon and Interim Chancellor Fran Ulmer will confer degrees on students from the following schools and colleges: Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business and Public Policy, Health and Social Welfare, Education, the Community and Technical College and the School of Engineering.  In all, UAA will confer more than 615 associate's, 1,189 bachelor's, 459 master's degrees, and 142 certificates and licenses from over 180 programs and areas of study.

This year's student speaker is Damjan Jutric.  He is a candidate for a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in civil engineering and minors in mathematics and psychology.  Originally from Derventa, former Yugoslavia, Damjan and his family moved to Vienna, Austria to escape a tragic civil war.  Not long after he learned the Austrian way of life, persecution forced his family to move again, this time to the United States.  Damjan's past experiences have taught him the value of a higher education, and have motivated him to study hard, get good grades and get involved.  He's worked hard to earn his degree, and has also been very involved in UAA's community through his various roles in student government and new student orientation.

Three prominent Alaskans will be recognized for their many achievements and contributions in service to the state, to learning and to humankind.  Carol Comeau will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, Dr. Tom Nighswander will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree, and Dr. Arlon R. Tussing will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Many years of outstanding service to the university and its students will be gratefully recognized with the conferring of emeritus status on three faculty members: Dr. Eileen Hughes, professor emeritus of early childhood development; Catherine Innes-Taylor, professor emeritus of library science; and Dr. Susan Ryan, professor emeritus of special education.

The particulars of the Commencement Ceremony are as follows:

WHERE:  Sullivan Arena (1600 Gambell St.).  Students should go to the balcony seats; faculty members should go to the faculty lounge (located in the southeast corner of the arena); and deans/directors, emeriti and stage party members should go to the VIP lounge.

WHEN:  Sunday, May 6, 2007, from 3 p.m. until approximately 6 p.m. Students and faculty should arrive at 2 p.m. (doors will not open until then).

REHEARSAL (REQUIRED):  10 a.m. Sunday, May 6 (the same day as Commencement), at the Sullivan Arena.  An optional breakfast, hosted by UAA's Alumni Association, will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Sullivan Arena.  

COST:  None. All family, guests and media members are welcome to attend.

PARKING/ SHUTTLE BUS:  There is no charge for parking.  UAA will provide continuous shuttle service from the University Center (3901 Old Seward Hwy. - UAA South Entrance) to the Sullivan Arena and back every 15 minutes, from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.  The shuttle will be available to take people back to the University Center at any point during the ceremony.  

BROADCAST:  Videotapes or DVD's of the ceremony can be purchased for $20 after May 15.  For more information call 786-6177 or 786-4486, or e-mail

SPECIAL NEEDS:  American Sign Language interpreters will attend the rehearsal and ceremony.  Attendees with other special requests are encouraged to call Annie Route at 786-1215.

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