News Briefs

UAA’s CTC announces associate dean
UAA Community and Technical College announced the appointment of Kristin Owens to the position of associate dean and term assistant professor.

Kristin will officially start May 30. She will work during June with the interim associate dean, Sandra Cobb, for a smooth leadership transition. After two years as interim associate dean, Cobb will return to her previous leadership role in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department.

Owens’ most recent professional work was at University of Maryland, College Park, as assistant dean of the Office of Professional Studies from 2002 until 2006.

UAA holds largest-ever commencement

The University of Alaska Anchorage’s spring graduating class of more than 2,400 students was the largest in the university’s history, a 20 percent increase in graduates over last year. Commencement was at 3 p.m. on May 6.

In all, UAA conferred about 615 associates, 1,189 bachelors, 459 master’s degrees, and 142 certificates and licenses from over 180 programs and areas of study.

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Three prominent Alaskans were recognized for their achievements and contributions in service to the state, learning and humankind. Carol Comeau received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, Tom Nighswander an Honorary Doctor of Science degree, and Arlon Tussing an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Amendment will reduce repeat DWI offenses

Rep. Harry Crawford’s bill to reduce drunk-driving deaths and injuries was passed by the Legislature as an amendment to the omnibus crime bill HB 90.

Crawford’s provision will require an identifying mark on the driver’s license or state-issued ID card of convicted drunk drivers under orders not to drink as part of a sentence or as a condition of probation or parole.

“This law will go a long way in keeping Alaskans safe from drunk drivers,” Crawford said. “Alaska will lead the nation with a new approach to preventing drunk driving by stopping repeat offenders from buying alcohol.”

In addition to approving Crawford’s proposal to combat drunk driving, the Legislature strengthened laws against child prostitution, increased the statute of limitations on kidnapping, and enhanced Alaska’s DNA registry system.

Crawford’s HB 14 bill was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives prior to being rolled into HB 90.

Palin’s choice for new UA regent announced

A former college hockey defenseman, whose playing career ended with an on-ice crash that left him partially paralyzed, was named to the University of Alaska board of regents.

Gov. Sarah Palin chose Erik Drygas to join the 11-member board. He once played hockey at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and now is a hockey coach at the city’s West Valley High.

If he is confirmed by the Legislature, Drygas will replace former Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes, who has been indicted on multiple federal charges and resigned as a regent the previous week. Hayes and his wife, Chris, are accused of misusing government grant money meant for a private agency run by Chris.

Drygas kept some arm movement, but was otherwise paralyzed from the shoulders down after he crashed headfirst into the boards during a 1996 hockey practice at UAF. He underwent months of physical therapy. He returned to Fairbanks and finished earning a degree in elementary education. Dygas graduated from UAF in 2000 and that fall began coaching at West Valley from a wheelchair. He also broadcasts radio commentary for UAF hockey games.

UAA adjunct wins national scholarship

A Barlett High School math teacher and adjunct math instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage will be attending the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference June 6-9 in New Orleans after being named one of five national winners of a scholarship to the event.

Sandra DeTerra, of Eagle River, teaches algebra and informal geometry at Bartlett High in Anchorage, and college algebra for UAA. Last fall, she completed a workshop and online teacher course for Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom, which included her final project of a geometry lesson based on Alaska roses.

DeTerra’s trip is being funded by a $1,200 American Farm Bureau Foundation for Education White-Reinhardt Fund for Education Teacher Scholarship, with remaining expenses covered by the Alaska Farm Bureau, which sponsors Alaska’s program.

The organization is a program that helps teachers enhance their students’ agricultural literacy – teaching students the sources of the food, fiber and flowers. Each year the conference draws as many as 600 participants, most of whom are teachers.

$200,000 check presented for scholarships

Alyeska Pipeline president Kevin Hostler presented a gift of $200,000 on behalf of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company to support the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program scholarships for the upcoming academic year. Alyeska has funded engineering scholarships for the program since 1995 and also provided $300,000 for the construction of their new building on UAA’s campus.

The program has been proven to increase university recruitment and retention rates through hands-on high school outreach initiatives, rigorous summer bridging programs, focused academic learning communities, organized student cohorts, networks of peer and professional mentors, community-based learning, professional internships, undergraduate research projects and graduate school programs.

The program life retention rate in engineering is more than 70 percent. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program represents a new paradigm for science and engineering education where teams of students are engaged with industry professionals, university faculty and university staff from the high school years through their time at the university.