UAA to graduate more than 1,000 students this fall

by Green & Gold News  |   

Green & gold confetti adorns the Alaska Airlines Center following UAA CommencementMuch like the spring 2020 semester, the University of Alaska Anchorage fall commencement activities will look a little different this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the pandemic will not prevent UAA from celebrating the fall Class of 2020 graduates via video ceremonies for graduate hooding, Dec. 12, and commencement, Dec. 13, on the graduation website. The site honors the accomplishments of more than 1,000 certificate, undergraduate and graduate students from the Anchorage campus.

“Our students are strong, resilient and inspirational,” UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen said. “Earning a degree alone is a significant achievement, but the Class of 2020 faced unprecedented challenges on their path to completion. This year, they adapted to new learning methods and an entirely new way of life while dealing with personal commitments and other obstacles, yet they persisted. This is a special group of students, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish. We are so pleased to welcome them to our ever-growing family of more than 60,000 Seawolf alumni.”

Jamie Bagley is this fall’s student commencement speaker. Bagley will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences. During her time at UAA, she has been active in the Union of Students at the University of Alaska Anchorage (USUAA) where she most recently served as speaker of the assembly, coordinating and chairing meetings while providing counsel to both the USUAA president and vice president. During her time at UAA, she also worked part time at a local veterinary clinic, gaining valuable, hands-on experience while applying to graduate veterinary programs.

Unique to this semester, all master’s and doctoral graduates from spring 2020 were invited to participate in the fall 2020 video ceremony. Naidene Baechler will serve as the speaker for this fall’s graduate hooding ceremony after completing her Master of Social Work in May 2020. One week after earning her degree, Baechler kicked off her career as program supervisor for the Knik Tribal Council (KTC), and earlier this year the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States named Baechler one of three Arctic Indigenous Scholars for 2020. The honor is awarded to individuals whose work exemplifies social, political and environmental issues important in their communities.

The website will also showcase the commencement program featuring the biography of Bill Sheffield, who is being awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his tremendous impact on the state through public service as governor.

Biographies of Meritorious Service Award recipients Renee Carter-Chapman and W.A. “Will” Jacobs also will be featured in the program. Carter-Chapman is honored for her contributions to higher education during her decades-long career as a UAA faculty member, Academic Affairs leader and senior member of the chancellor’s Cabinet. She implemented a number of programs and initiatives that will have a lasting impact on the UAA community. Jacobs is honored for similar accomplishments and contributions to higher education through many years of teaching, serving as an active leader in faculty governance and service roles, leading accreditation efforts and ultimately serving in an Academic Affairs leadership role. Retiring faculty who have received emeritus status are also honored on the website.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the university canceled in-person events in an effort to promote the safety of the UAA community, follow public health guidance and respond to ongoing changes to state and municipal conditions.

The countdown to the graduation ceremony has begun. More information is available at

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