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Celebrating the fall 2020 Honorary Degree and Meritorious Service Award recipients

by Green & Gold News  |   

Honorary Degree
The criterion for individuals to receive an honorary degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage is evidence of a significant and lasting contribution to the university, the state of Alaska or to the individuals' discipline or profession. It is UAA's honor and privilege to award Bill Sheffield an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the fall 2020 commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 13.

Bill Sheffield

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Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters awardee Bill Sheffield.

In 1982, the battle for the governorship of Alaska was intense. Ultimately, Bill Sheffield won, but his path to governing the 49th state came from humble beginnings in Silverdale, Washington where he grew up and his lifelong “pro-job” philosophy was inspired by President Roosevelt's fireside chats during the Great Depression.

After serving in the United States Airforce during World War II, Sheffield worked as a sales and service representative for Sears Roebuck. In 1953 he was transferred to Alaska where he earned the title of top salesman in the country for four years straight. Sheffield’s experience with the burgeoning Sears company allowed him, with his partner and friend Brad Phillips, to branch out into the hospitality industry. He and Phillips purchased their first property at 9th and D and established the Anchorage Inn. Eventually, Sheffield bought out his business partner, expanded his hotel holdings and grew his hotel empire to 19 properties in Alaska and the Yukon territories.

In 1975, recognized for his business acumen, Sheffield was elected to the Anchorage Charter Commission, his first foray into public service, and in 1982 he decided to join the heated governor race.

As governor, Sheffield was a builder. During his tenure, he oversaw massive statewide projects investing in Alaska’s infrastructure from roadways to water systems. He consolidated the state’s four time zones into two and is responsible for creating Alaska Standard Time. Sheffield also helped facilitate the purchase of the Alaska Railroad from the federal government and commissioned the construction of Spring Creek Correctional Facility in Seward.

After leaving the governor’s office, Sheffield went on to helm the Alaska Railroad and became port director for the Municipality of Anchorage until he retired in January 2011. Recently celebrating his 90th birthday, Sheffield leaves his indelible legacy of leadership in Alaska.


Meritorious Service Award
The Meritorious Service Award is bestowed to an individual who has demonstrated significant work in the areas of public, academic, volunteer or philanthropic service to UAA, one of the community campuses or an Alaska community. It is UAA's honor and privilege to award Renee Carter-Chapman and W.A. (Will) Jacobs the Meritorious Service Award at the fall 2020 commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 13.

Renee Carter-Chapman

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Fall 2020 Meritorious Service Award recipient Renee Carter-Chapman.

Throughout her over 40-year career at UAA, Renee Carter-Chapman has demonstrated excellence in each initiative she has undertaken. An extraordinary leader, Carter-Chapman was responsible for the creation of, and advocacy for, an astonishing array of integral programs that have increased the quality, recognition and prestige of the entire University of Alaska system. 

Dating back to UAA’s earliest years during its merger with Anchorage Community College, Carter-Chapman was instrumental in the creation of the Community and Technical College and continued by heading the university’s first coordinated student success and retention strategies. 

As a leader in Academic Affairs and on the Chancellor's Cabinet, Carter-Chapman was a consistent and successful advocate of community engagement and partnerships. It was her and then-Provost Dan Johnson who first championed the idea of service-learning at UAA. Together, they established the Faculty Fellow in Community Engagement to conduct research, develop strategies and create opportunities for faculty to learn more about this powerful pedagogy. Additionally, in 1998 Carter-Chapman oversaw the establishment of UAA’s Center for Community Engagement and Learning, which has since become one of the university’s signature, nationally recognized programs.

Most recently, Carter-Chapman was the driving force behind UAA’s remarkable involvement and success in the Ford Foundation’s Difficult Dialogues initiative. She identified the opportunity, gathered the original team of faculty and staff together to develop a proposal, formed a groundbreaking partnership with Alaska Pacific University and served as co-principal investigator for the project. Her proposal was one of only 26 in the nation to receive a Ford Foundation grant, out of a pool of over 700 pre-proposals submitted by some of the most elite institutions of higher education in the nation.

W.A. (Will) Jacobs

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Fall 2020 Meritorious Service Award recipient W.A. (Will) Jacobs. 

W.A. (Will) Jacobs is professor emeritus of history and political science at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Born in South Carolina and raised in rural Wisconsin, he was educated at Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire (B.S.), and the University of Oregon (M.A. and Ph.D.). After brief teaching stints at Eau Claire, Earlham College, and Oregon, he was appointed in 1973 as assistant professor of history in what was then the Senior College in the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He served in the history department until 1989, then in Political Science for a further ten years. Over the course of his faculty appointment Jacobs was an active leader in many faculty governance and service roles.

After leading UAA's reaccreditation effort in 1999-2000, he was appointed Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs in 2001. He retired in 2002. After retirement, he took up part-time service in the Office of Academic Affairs, working as an assistant to the provost on a variety of tasks with a focus on strategic planning. His service to UAA concluded with the publication of a survey history of UAA and its predecessor institutions: Becoming UAA, 1954-2014: The Origins and Development of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Over the course of his time at UAA, Jacobs taught European History, International Relations, U.S. Foreign Policy, the History of Warfare, and the History of the Second World War. His published primary research focused on British and American air force operations in that conflict. 

In 2013 Jacobs and his wife, Mina, moved to the Midwest and now reside in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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