Matanuska-Susitna College professors Cypher and Chang to retire in May

by Michelle Saport  |   

In May, Matanuska-Susitna College (MSC) will see the retirement of two distinguished long-time professors, Jack Cypher, who has served 16 years, and Professor Ping-Tung Chang, who has served 26 years.

An '89 alumnus of Matanuska-Susitna College, Professor Cypher first joined the faculty as a visiting instructor for the Refrigeration and Heating Technology Program in October 1997. Before teaching at MSC, Cypher worked as a journeyman, supervisor and HVAC instructor. In 2003, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Historical Commission honored Cypher for his work installing a heating system at the Knik Museum. In 2006, Cypher represented MSC and was one of seven national winners in the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) competition in Baltimore, Md.

An active member in both the community and the college, Cypher has been key to the enduring success of the college's Refrigeration and Heating Technology Program. MSC Director Talis Colberg noted, "Mr. Cypher is one of the quietest and most reliable people on campus. He was a cornerstone figure in our work to offer vocational options for university students and he will be missed."

Professor Ping-Tung Chang, Ph.D., was the first full-time math professor hired by Matanuska-Susitna College. First hired nearly three decades ago, Chang has been a member of the college faculty for half of the institution's history. Chang has focused his life on the wellbeing of both the college and his students. He founded the school's Math Club and, for many years, he organized food drives for needy families in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Chang was recognized many times for his unique Grow Your Own teaching methods and devotion to students. The Alaska State Legislature issued citations in his honor several times.

He was twice recognized as the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Alaska State Professor of the Year, first in 2001 and again in 2009. In 2010, Chang was recognized as the CASE United States Professor of the Year, an unprecedented national award for an Alaska professor. His award ceremony in Washington, D.C., was attended by UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer and included a special visit to the Chinese Embassy. Chinese and Taiwanese authorities have both recognized and honored Chang for his accomplishments in the U.S.

In addition, Chang established the Ping-Tung Chang Scholarship Fund through the University of Alaska Foundation to benefit future scholars. Chang has also been a zealous fundraiser for the scholarship fund, which now ranks as the third largest in the Matanuska-Susitna College portfolio. Director Colberg observed, "Dr. Chang has been an enduring fixture at Matanuska-Susitna College. For nearly three decades, this school has been his family and his life, and he will be remembered for a long time. We wish him well."

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