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University of Alaska Southeast Commencement 2018

On the first weekend in May, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) will celebrate student achievement and success at commencement activities on its three campuses in Sitka, Ketchikan, and Juneau.

Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Alaska

Date of Press Release: April 24, 2018

On the first weekend in May, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) will celebrate student achievement and success at commencement activities on its three campuses in Sitka, Ketchikan, and Juneau. UAS expects to award 410 associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees, 128 certificates and professional licensures, and 174 occupational endorsements. Commencement in Sitka takes place Friday, May 4, Ketchikan on Saturday, May 5, and Juneau’s event is Sunday, May 6.

UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield, Provost Karen Carey, and UA regents Dale Anderson and Lisa Parker will travel to each campus to celebrate the success of graduates in the three communities. UA President Jim Johnsen will attend the Juneau commencement ceremony. UAS is pleased to announce that U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski will deliver the Juneau Commencement Address.

At the Juneau event, UAS will present honorary doctorate degrees to Bruce Botelho and Kaayistaan Marie Olson. Meritorious Service Awards will be presented to Nancy DeCherney at the Juneau ceremony, and Len Laurance in Ketchikan.

The UAS Sitka commencement ceremony takes place Friday, May 4 at 7 p.m. in the campus lecture hall. The UAS Ketchikan Campus ceremony is set for Saturday, May 5 at 2 p.m. at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.

On Sunday, May 6, the UAS Juneau campus celebrates its 47th annual commencement ceremony at 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 a.m. in the Egan Library 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 12.

Chancellor Rick Caulfield expressed pride in the accomplishments of all UAS graduates: “Commencement is a time to celebrate the hard work and dedication of our graduates, whether they are completing a workforce certificate, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or a graduate degree. We’re proud of each and every one of them for seeking an education that will prepare them for productive careers and help enrich their lives and those of their families. Our faculty and staff are honored to be part of that journey.”

At the Juneau Commencement, two students—one undergraduate and one graduate—will address their fellow graduates. Blake Fletcher is an undergraduate earning a dual degree: a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Arts in English. One of those nominating him for student speaker wrote: “Blake has fulfilled both degree programs and has taken more classes in such a broad range of subjects here at UAS than anyone else I know. His plans after graduation involve studying for a Masters of Arts in Secondary Education with the end goal of teaching secondary school. Blake wants to teach students—the most selfless of professions–to inspire them to further their education.”

The second speaker is graduate student Erin Ohlson, who will receive a Master’s degree in Public Administration. The person nominating her stated: “Erin is a third generation, lifelong Alaskan raised in rural Gustavus where her husband's parents homesteaded. She exemplifies the self-motivated, multi-tasking, hard-working parents who persevere and accomplish their goals of advanced degrees through distance education opportunities. She did this while simultaneously raising her young family, working, and progressing in her profession, and engaging productively in her community.”

Bruce Botelho will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws, awarded by the UA Board of Regents. Botelho had a distinguished career with the State of Alaska Department of Law, which included serving for nine years as the state’s Attorney General; the only one since statehood to serve under two governors from differing political parties. In addition, he served the longest term as Mayor of Juneau in the history of the city; from 1988-1991 and then again from 2003-2012. Distinguished UAA professor emeritus Stephen Haycox stated in his support letter, “In his dedication and his achievements, Bruce Botelho manifests and represents the essence of public service and civic engagement.”

Tlingit elder Kaayistaan Marie Olson will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. A respected member of the Áak’w Kwáan, Olson has been a staunch supporter of the University of Alaska and has made significant and enduring educational and cultural contributions to UAS, UAF, and the State of Alaska over the course of more than four decades. As an Alaska Native woman, she has experienced both the challenges and benefits of pursuing a university education, ultimately earning two certificates and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from UAS. She has made significant contributions to indigenous knowledge in Alaska in her service as a distinguished culture bearer.

A University of Alaska Meritorious Service Award will be presented to Ms. Nancy DeCherney. Her inspirational leadership with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council reflects service to the entire community of Juneau and to Southeast Alaska—creating a rich presence of arts and culture and inspiring others. Mr. Len Laurance will receive a Meritorious Service Award at the Ketchikan ceremony. He is a founding member of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, and has been a strong advocate for tourism education and the tourism industry.

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 be live streamed on the web at on Facebook Live @uasalaska.

Additional Resources

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
(907) 796-6509