Earthquake will not stop nearly 1,000 UAA students from graduating this fall

by Michelle Saport  |   

The University of Alaska Anchorage will celebrate the fall Class of 2018 graduates at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16, in the Alaska Airlines Center. The ceremony honors the accomplishments of nearly 1,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional school students from the Anchorage campus.

"This day is the culmination of hours of hard work and study for our students as they have juggled family commitments, jobs and many other activities," UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen said. "Across this country, hundreds of thousands of students will graduate this month, but I believe our students deserve to be celebrated more than others for their tremendous resilience. Not even an earthquake could shake their resolve to complete the work they started. They have earned this day."

Katherine Irwin will speak on behalf of graduating students as this fall's student commencement speaker. Irwin will graduate with a bachelor's degree in journalism and public communications and a minor in art. She is making Seawolf history as UAA's first Deaf student commencement speaker. She is also leaving behind a legacy that will benefit members of the entire UA system for years to come. Through her independent study course, Irwin conducted much-needed research into the overall effectiveness of UAA's Disability Support Services, successfully gathering feedback from more than 400 students, faculty and staff in order to improve services for students.

During the ceremony, UAA will award an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Joseph Josephson for his long history of political and public service in Alaska, which dates back before statehood. The university will also recognize Julie Decker, Ph.D., director and CEO of the Anchorage Museum, with a Meritorious Service Award for her dedication to fostering diversity, community and accessibility in Anchorage's art scene.

UAA will also celebrate the selection of Jeane Breinig, associate vice chancellor for Alaska Natives and diversity, for the 2018 Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence. The prize awards individuals who have demonstrated excellence in support of the University of Alaska. Retiring faculty and staff who have received emeritus status will also be honored at commencement.

The Alaska Airlines Center has mandatory security screening by walk-through metal detectors. Doors to the arena will open at 11:30 a.m. and general admission seating will begin at noon. Guests should only bring essential items for the event. Leave backpacks and bags larger than 4.5-by-6.5 inches at home. Noisemakers and weapons will be refused at the screening stations. More information is available at

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