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UAF to host 95th commencement ceremony


The University of Alaska Fairbanks will honor the class of 2017 during its 95th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6, at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.

The university's first commencement took place in 1923, when the sole graduate, John Sexton Shanly, received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. On Saturday, UAF expects to confer approximately 1,472 degrees on 1,370 students. Some students will receive more than one degree. The commencement ceremony includes graduates from summer and fall 2016 and spring 2017.

Several members of the University of Alaska Board of Regents and UA President Jim Johnsen will help UAF Interim Chancellor Dana Thomas confer degrees.

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

Fairbanks architect Charles Bettisworth and public-health advocate Karen Perdue, who are married, will give the keynote address. UAF will present three honorary doctoral degrees and a Meritorious Service Award during the ceremony. This year’s honorary degree recipients are Bettisworth, Perdue and ecoscientist M. Torre Jorgenson. Bill Brophy, a retired Usibelli Coal Mine executive and U.S. Army colonel, will receive a Meritorious Service Award.

The student speaker will be Daniel Nero, who is graduating with degrees in English and secondary education. This year’s outstanding students are Emelia Van Wyhe, recipient of the Marion Frances Boswell Memorial Award honoring a graduating senior woman; Gabriel Cartagena, recipient of the Joel Wiegert Award honoring a graduating senior man; and Katrina Nunemann, recipient of the Gray S. Tilly Memorial Award honoring a graduating nontraditional student.

James Beget, professor of geology, will serve as the procession’s grand marshal. He is among 14 retiring staff and faculty members who will be granted emeritus status on Saturday, a title given to those who have served the university with distinction for at least 10 years.

Others receiving emeritus status are: Susan Andrews, professor of arts and letters; William Barnes, associate professor of computer technology; Laura Bender, director of Graduate School; Sukumar Bandopadhyay, professor of mining engineering; John Creed, professor of arts and letters; Catherine Hanks, professor of petroleum geology; Jayne Harvie, governance office manager and Faculty Senate coordinator; Dixon Jones, Rasmuson Library graphic designer; Mary Keskinen, associate professor of geoscience; Debi McLean, director of Bristol Bay Campus; Greg Owens, associate professor of mathematics and developmental education; Pete Pinney, associate vice chancellor of rural, community and Native education, and executive dean for the College of Rural and Community Development; and John Yarie, professor of silviculture.

The Fairbanks campus’ commencement has typically coincided with Mother’s Day but is being moved to Saturday, May 6, this year to allow Johnsen and members of the Board of Regents to attend graduation ceremonies in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks. There will not be a commencement rehearsal for UAF students this year.

The Carlson Center will be open for guest seating at noon on Saturday, and the processional will begin at 1:20 p.m. The event will be televised by GCI on channels 1 and 907. It will also be available as a webcast at www.uaf.edu/commencement.

Graduates, their families and UAF alumni are welcome to attend a reception hosted by the UAF Alumni Association on the Carlson Center Pioneer Room immediately following the ceremony.

Class of 2017 profile

The following statistics provide a snapshot of UAF’s 2017 graduating class. Please be aware that these are only preliminary numbers, current as of May 3, 2017. Final statistics will not be available until after commencement.

Approximately 746 women and 623 men are graduating; 1,472 awards are expected to be conferred on 1,370 students, including:

• 65 occupational endorsements
• 205 certificates
• 301 associate degrees
• 586 bachelor’s degrees
• 223 master’s degrees
• 49 doctorates
• 43 recommendations for education licensure
• 3 graduate certificates

Diversity breakdown:

• 212 Alaska Native/American Indian
• 30 Asian-American
• 34 African-American
• 66 Hispanic or Latino
• 299 Other or unknown
• 40 International
• 675 White
• 12 Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
Youngest graduate is 16 (occupational endorsement in basic carpentry); youngest baccalaureate graduate is 21 (bachelor’s degree in biological sciences); oldest graduate is 73 (certificate in airframe and powerplant)
Average age: 29; median age: 26
2017 schedule

The following is a schedule of commencement weekend activities. Times with asterisks are estimated.

Saturday, May 6

Noon — Carlson Center opens for guest seating

12:20 p.m. — Graduates, faculty, administrators and stage party line up, Carlson Center

1:20 p.m. — Academic procession begins

1:30 p.m. — Ceremony begins

4:30 p.m. (estimated) — Alumni reception, Carlson Center lawn


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