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UAF to Celebrate 88th Commencement



Fairbanks, Alaska— The University of Alaska Fairbanks expects to confer 1,236 degrees on 1,176 students during its 88th commencement ceremony Sunday, May 16 at the Carlson Center. The university's first commencement took place in 1923, when the sole graduate, John Sexton Shanly, received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture.

Preliminary figures show that 709 women and 467 men have applied for graduation; some students will receive more than one degree. The commencement ceremony includes graduates from summer and fall 2009 and spring 2010.

UAF expects to award 44 occupational endorsements, 170 certificates, 216 associate degrees, 511 bachelor's degrees and 222 master's degrees on Sunday. Forty-two students are expected to receive doctoral degrees, the highest number in UAF’s history, while 30 are expected to receive recommendations for education licensure.  Graduates range in age from 19 to 71 and the average age is 31. Several members of the University of Alaska Board of Regents will help UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers confer degrees. UA President Mark Hamilton will also participate in the ceremony.

The Qaluyaamiut Dancers will lead the processional. Graduates, faculty members, honorary degree recipients and university officials will participate in the ceremony beginning at 1:20 p.m.

UAF alumnus and Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese will give the keynote address. As CEO of London-based Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world, Albanese is known for steering the company toward a philosophy of sustainability, from an environmental, social and economic standpoint. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mineral economics and a master’s degree in mining engineering, both from UAF.

UAF will award three honorary degrees during the commencement ceremony. This year’s honorary degree recipients are Albanese, arctic researcher Jerry Brown and Yup’ik elder Kangrilnguq Paul John.

The student speaker is Christina Hardman, who will be receiving a bachelor’s degree in music education. Hardman is this year’s winner of the Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award, which honors the outstanding senior woman.

Hans Nielsen, professor of geophysics, will serve as the procession’s grand marshal. Nielsen is among 18 retiring faculty members who will be granted emeritus status on Sunday, a title given to those who have served the university with distinction for at least 10 years.

Others receiving emeritus status are: Mark Box, professor of English; Godwin Chukwu, professor of petroleum engineering; Joseph Dupras, professor of English; Rheba Dupras, associate professor of library science; James Gladden, professor of political science; George Happ, research professor of biomedical sciences; William Hibler, research professor of sea ice physics; Ronald Illingworth, professor of English and developmental education; Steven Jacobson, professor of Yup’ik Eskimo; Ron Johnson, professor of mechanical and environmental engineering; John Kelley, professor of marine science; Judith Kleinfeld, professor of psychology and northern studies; Tamara Lincoln, associate professor of library science; Dirk Lummerzheim, research professor of geophysics; Mary Mangusso, associate professor of history; Joseph Margraf, professor of fisheries; and Henry “Hank” Wichmann, professor of accounting.

Commencement rehearsal for graduates is Saturday, May 15, at 10:30 a.m. at the Carlson Center. There will also be a picnic that day from 12:30–2 p.m. at the UAF Wood Center for graduates and their families and friends to celebrate with Chancellor Brian Rogers and Sherry Modrow. Graduation mass will take place Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Schaible Auditorium. The Carlson Center will open for guest seating at noon on Sunday. The processional will begin at 1:20 p.m. The event will also be available as a webcast. Visit www.uaf.edu/commencement and click on the webcast link.

Graduates, their families and UAF alumni are welcome to attend a reception hosted by the UAF Alumni Association in the Carlson Center’s Arthur Buswell Pioneer Room immediately following Sunday’s commencement ceremony.

ON THE WEB: www.uaf.edu/commencement

University of Alaska Fairbanks commencement
Class of 2010 student stories

May 12, 2010

Grace Kirk
Degree: B.A., rural development
Notes: Kirk’s life has been affected by the high rates of accidents, illnesses and injuries in her home region of Northwest Alaska. She has worked toward graduating from UAF as a way to help heal herself and her community. Kirk started taking college classes in 1991 and says that every time she was overwhelmed with her school work she would think about the non-scholastic difficulties faced by her friends and neighbors and that would help her redouble her efforts. Kirk’s graduation from UAF is the culmination of her dream to give back and help improve the lives of the people who live in Northwest Alaska.

Delight Kennedy
Degree: B.A., political science, global studies minor
Notes: Not content to simply sit in classroom and study politics from a chair, Kennedy spent a year studying international law in northern Norway. Back here at home, Kennedy practiced her political skills as a member of the Model United Nations. She was a member of Students in Free Enterprise and Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, and helped her family care for her disabled father.

Rinu Ann Samuel
Degree: B.S., geological engineering
Notes: Samuel came to Fairbanks immediately after graduating from high school in Pune, India. When she moved to Fairbanks to study engineering, she reveled in the change of cultures, joined a local church group, and has continued that bridge-building by reaching out to other new students to ease their transition to a campus lifestyle. Samuel is an active member of the Society of Women Engineers and graduates at the top of her engineering class.

John ‘Craig’ George
Degree: Ph.D. biological sciences: wildlife biology
Notes: George has revolutionized the study of bowhead whales by publishing his research showing the animals live to be 150 years old. George has been studying at UAF for the past 10 years and lives in Barrow, where he works for the North Slope Borough.

Tripti Macias
Degree: B.B.A., accounting
Notes: Macias’ studies are not ending when she receives a degree today. She will continue studying business at UAF as a graduate student. Macias, who is from India, is a professional certified flight instructor and, after Sept. 11, 2001, joined the U.S. Army as a helicopter mechanic. After being injured in a helicopter crash, Macias set her course on a college degree.

Kimberly Giroux
Degree: B.S., biological sciences
Notes: From inner city Detroit, Giroux began her college education at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the early 1980’s but put school on the back burner when she got married and gave birth to a son, who graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2008. Giroux says she has struggled with traditional classroom settings since she was a child, but decided to return to school and complete her degree. After graduation, she plans to work in science education outreach for inner city youth.

Charity Curlee
Degree: B.A., psychology, early childhood minor
Notes: Curlee moved from North Carolina to Fairbanks to study at UAF, along with her husband and their two children. Her husband is in the process of finishing a master’s degree in Northern Studies and Curlee plans to continue her education with a graduate degree from UNC Charlotte. Curlee was recently featured in a documentary about how people work and raise a family and go to school at the same time. She plans on using her graduate and post-graduate education as an Upward Bound director.

Alison Holleman
Degree: B.A., social work, psychology minor
Notes: 9 out of 10 people who attempt distance education are not successful – such is not the case for Holleman. While raising her family, Holleman completed most of her UAF coursework in Social Work and Psychology through distance education. She is graduating with a grade-point-average of more than 3.0 and plans on pursuing graduate studies in social work after spending a few years working in her field.

Christine Simko
Degree: Interdisciplinary B.A., imageries in health science, creative therapies minor
Notes: Simko’s life as a student does not end as she graduates from UAF. She has already been accepted to Bastyr University in Seattle to study for a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. Over the course of her studies, she has circumnavigated the globe on a Semester at Sea and took some time to learn from the faculty at Western State College of Colorado. Simko worked full time to pay for tuition at UAF and plans to use her education toward graphic design and fine art creation during medical school.

DeVonne Koppenberg
Degree: B.A., psychology
Notes: Thirteen years after earning her associate degree in early childhood education from UAF, Koppenberg is once again walking as a graduate. She is wearing the same cap and gown she wore in 1997. Koppenberg, 70, was a nominee for the 2010 Flint Hills Golden Heart Award and is author of the book, “Why Would Grandma Move to Alaska?”


University of Alaska Fairbanks commencement
Class of 2010 profile

The following statistics provide a snapshot of UAF’s 2010 graduating class. Please be aware that these are only preliminary numbers, current as of May 12, 2010. Final statistics will not be available until after commencement. With that in mind, here’s this year’s class profile:

•    1236 awards expected to be conferred on approximately 1176 students:

44 occupational endorsements
170 certificates
216 associate degrees
511 bachelor’s degrees
222 master’s degrees
42 doctorates
30 recommendations for education licensure

•    709 women graduating and 467 men

•    Diversity breakdown:

265 Alaska Native/American Indian
42 Asian
23 Black
47 Hispanic
17 Other
44 International
738 White

•    Youngest graduate is 19; oldest graduate is 71.

•    Average age of class: 31


University of Alaska Fairbanks commencement
2010 schedule for media

Following is a schedule of commencement-weekend activities. Asterisked times are estimated.

Saturday, May 15
10:30 a.m. – Commencement rehearsal at the Carlson Center
12:30-2 p.m. – Graduate picnic at Wood Center

Sunday, May 16
10:30 a.m. – Graduation mass at Schaible Auditorium
Noon – Carlson Center opens for guest seating
12:20 p.m.  – Graduates line up at Carlson Center
12:45 p.m. – Faculty, administrators and stage party line up
1:20 p.m. – Academic procession begins
1:30 p.m. – Ceremony begins
*4:30 p.m. – Reception begins in Arthur Buswell Pioneer Room at Carlson Center

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