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UAS Honors David Kiffer with Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at 2022 Commencement Ceremony

Honorary degrees are bestowed on individuals who exemplify a significant and lasting contribution to the university, to the State of Alaska, or to the individual’s discipline or profession.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Date of Press Release: April 8, 2022

David Kiffer
David Kiffer

The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) uses the occasion of Student Commencement each year to recognize individuals in our community who’ve offered outstanding service to the university, the state of Alaska, or Southeast communities. Honorary degrees are bestowed on individuals who exemplify a significant and lasting contribution to the university, to the State of Alaska, or to the individual’s discipline or profession. The UA Board of Regents approves candidates who are nominated by local campuses. This year UAS will honor David Kiffer with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

David Kiffer is a community leader in Ketchikan and an important figure in the arts and letters of Southeast Alaska. He has worn many hats in his lifetime including journalist, regional historian, teacher, poet, musician, and mayor.

He is currently the education coordinator at the Ketchikan Correctional Center and previously was the long-time executive director of Historic Ketchikan, a non-profit organization dedicated to historic preservation and sustainable historic tourism in Southeast Alaska. A noted columnist for local newspapers and websites, he has written hundreds of articles on regional history, exploring a wide range of topics and providing unparalleled documentation of many forgotten aspects of our history. He has written and published hundreds of poems.

Mr. Kiffer is a leading figure on Ketchikan’s music scene and leads his own popular jazz band as well performing with numerous other groups in the area. He also taught private woodwind lessons to Ketchikan youth and adults for more than 20 years.

He has been an adjunct professor at UAS-Ketchikan for 25 years, most recently teaching a very successful course in music appreciation for UAS.

He is currently the Mayor of City of Ketchikan and has served on the City Council for the past eight years. He previously served as Mayor of Ketchikan Gateway Borough and as a member of the borough assembly. He has served statewide on the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska Center for the Book and on the executive boards of the Alaska Municipal League and the Alaska Conference of Mayors.

Roy and Tina McPherson of McPherson Music note, “We can think of no one during our many years in Ketchikan who has made such a widespread contribution to the historical awareness, political growth and adaptation, and cultural well- being of our community. Dave continues to interact with our citizens and neighbors in a consistently positive, intelligent, and respectful way. His sense of humor and goodwill are always apparent and welcome to those around him.”

Mr. Kiffer has worked as a journalist in Alaska, Los Angeles, Boston and Wyoming and has written articles for the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Seattle Times, and the Anchorage Daily News among many others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston and a Master’s Degree in poetry and Irish Studies from Poets’ House at Lancaster University in Donegal, Ireland.

UAS is proud to honor David Kiffer at the UAS Ketchikan Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, April 30, 2022. UAS Chancellor Karen Carey remarked, “Mr. Kiffer is truly deserving of this award. Honorary doctorates recognize people in our communities who have gone above and beyond to contribute to the state of Alaska and beyond. From journalist to musician, Mr. Kiffer has done it all and this recognition exemplifies his concern for all Alaskans.”

Additional Resources

Press Release Contact

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