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UAS Commencement 2016

This weekend, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) will award 755 associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees along with occupational endorsements, certificates, and professional licensures. Awards will be granted to 670 graduates from the Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka campuses. This year’s number of awards is among the highest granted at commencement. UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield and members of the UA Board of Regents will travel to each campus where the accomplishments of each student will be recognized.

The UAS Sitka Campus commencement ceremony takes place Friday, April 29, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. The UAS Ketchikan Campus ceremony is set for Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.

The UAS Juneau campus celebrates the 45 th annual commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 1, 2 p.m. at the Charles Gamble Jr.-Donald Sperl Joint Use Facility, 12300 Mendenhall Loop Road (REC Center). The UAS Native & Rural Student Center hosts its annual Alaska Native Graduation Celebration at 11:30 a.m. in the Egan Lecture Hall on the Auke Lake campus. In addition, a celebration of UAS School of Education graduates living elsewhere in Alaska will be held in Anchorage on Saturday, May 7.

Chancellor Rick Caulfield commented: “We are enormously proud of the accomplishments of these UAS graduates. Many are first-generation college students—the first in their family to achieve this level of education. Others are older non-traditional students who are already employed and raising a family but are working hard to improve their education, their skills, and the well-being of their families. Each and every one of these students has persevered through major challenges to achieve their educational goals. Congratulations to them all!”

This year’s Juneau student commencement speaker is Jasper Nelson. Jasper was born in Ketchikan and grew up in Craig on Prince of Wales Island. He is of Tsimshian heritage. He is graduating with his Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with an endorsement in Biology and plans to teach in his home community. In 2015, Jasper earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with the goal of becoming a high school biology teacher. For his MAT student teaching experience, Jasper is teaching chemistry and biology to Thunder Mountain High School students. Alaska Native educator Angie Lunda, who nominated Jasper for this recognition, notes that “through his deep knowledge of Southeast Alaska and his content area, his use of humor in his lessons, and his genuine caring for all students, Jasper and his mentor teacher have built an engaging and rigorous biology program for the students in their TMHS class of 2016.”

Jasper is sure to bring his sense of humor to his remarks Sunday. “I was surprised to be nominated. I thought I tricked someone into thinking I was eloquent,” joked Nelson. “But the honor was too much for me to pass up.”

Honorary Doctorate of Laws recipient Edward Thomas will deliver the Commencement Address. Thomas served with distinction as President of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska from 1984-2014. He was an active leader in the Alaska Federation of Natives and secretary to the National Congress of American Indians. He played a foundational role in establishing legally binding government-to- government compacts between Alaska Native tribes and the federal government.

Sandro Lane will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws. Lane is co-owner of Trident Seafoods Corporation. A Juneau entrepreneur since 1984, Lane went from processing and selling cold-smoked salmon out of his garage to founding Taku Fisheries and Smokeries. He’s found ways to prevent fish carcass waste with the invention of proprietary processes to extract fish oil and protein. His salmon oil nutritional supplements are sold worldwide. He represents the best of Alaska’s business leaders and entrepreneurs.

A University of Alaska Meritorious Service award will be presented to Juneau community volunteer Peter Freer, who served on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly and on the board for everything from Perseverance Theatre to the Glacier Swim Club. Meritorious service awards, approved by the UA Board of Regents, are also going to arts advocate Jeff Budd in Sitka and fishing industry innovator Larry Painter in Ketchikan.

The gender breakdown of the graduating class of 2016 is 60% women and 40% men. Nearly 9% of UAS graduates are Alaska Native/American Indian.

The Juneau commencement ceremony is immediately followed by a catered reception in the Lakeside Grill in the Mourant building on the UAS Auke Lake campus. Shuttle service will be available from the main campus parking area to the REC center. The event is simulcast on UATV Cable Channel 11 and other locations in Alaska. See this link for complete list: It will also be live streamed on UATV

Contact: Katie Bausler, UAS Public and Media Relations Director
University of Alaska Southeast
Phone: Cell: 907-321-2755, Office: 907-796-6530

Students Safe after Bear Attack on Faculty

Forest Wagner, UAS Outdoor Studies Faculty. Photo credit: Ryan Cortes

University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Assistant Professor Forest Wagner, 35, of Juneau, Alaska was mauled by a brown bear Monday, April 18 during a field mountaineering course near Haines and medevaced to Providence Hospital in Anchorage. As of April 26, Wagner has been moved from Intensive Care to the Orthopedic Unit and upgraded to fair condition.

Wagner was leading a group of 9 students and 2 teaching assistants in the Mountaineering 1 class (Outdoor Studies 222/Physical Education E222). The group was descending in an area between Mt. Emmerich and the Chilkat River when Wagner, while on skis, was attacked by the bear. Troopers were notified of the incident at 11:53 a.m. via satellite phone.

Alaska State Troopers and university officials coordinated with Temsco Helicopters to evacuate the class group from the area. Students returned to Juneau with UAS Professor Kevin Krein on Tuesday, April 19 via ferry as previously planned. Haines is located 92 miles north of Juneau and only accessible from Alaska’s capital city via air or sea.

UAS is supporting the students involved. Chancellor Rick Caulfield said “I commend the students for their quick action in responding to this situation and appreciate the prompt response from Alaska State Troopers, Haines Police, Temsco Helicopters, and medical staff in Haines, Juneau and Anchorage. Our thoughts are with faculty member Forest Wagner as he recovers from this incident, and we are thankful that all involved are safe.”

Wagner grew up in Fairbanks. He teaches mountaineering, backcountry navigation and travel, ice climbing, rock climbing, and outdoor leadership, and has led many extended expedition courses. He guides on Mt. Denali for Alaska Mountain School, has worked internationally as a high altitude guide and completed several wilderness classic mountaineering routes in Alaska.

In an April 20 public statement released through Providence Hospital, Wagner thanked well-wishers for the outpouring of support.

This report will be updated as needed.

Contact: Katie Bausler
University of Alaska Southeast
Phone: Cell: 907-321-2755, Office: 907-796-6530

Public and Media Relations

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Soboleff Annex 
11120 Glacier Hwy
Juneau, AK
Mailstop: SA1

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