May 4, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy


At the end of the school year, the Athletic Department hosts an end of year banquet for all of UAA’s intercollegiate sports teams. At this event, held on April 28 was the announcement of the 33rd winner of the Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year, Morgan Hooe.

Hooe was nominated for her impressive All-American honors and her role as team captain for the team that made it to the NCAA Div. II National Title Match. Hooe was the 2016 GNAC player of the year, for the finish of her four years as a leader and setter for the Seawolves.

For the current year, 13 athletes were nominated for the prestigious title, including one athlete from each gender for each sport.

The first nomination was presented to the gymnastics team, naming Kendra Daniels to the list for her top performances on the team in the 2017 season. In balance beam, she set a UAA record at 9.9, and also competed in floor and vault. Daniels was the first Seawolf to get four or more beam scores of higher than 9.825 in a season.

The next nominations were for cross-country running, for the women’s side was Caroline Kugart and Edwin Kangogo for the men’s side.

Kugart performed exceptionally in the 2016 season by finishing third at the NCAA Championships in her individual race. The Eldoret, Kenya local was also the NCAA West Region runner-up and GNAC individual title winner.

Kangogo, also from Eldoret is a two time All-American. He boasts an impressive individual title at the GNAC Championships as well as a fourth place finish at the NCAA West Region Championships.

For skiing, Tony Nacuik made the men’s nomination and Charley Field for the women’s.

Nacuik is part of the alpine skiing team, originally from Calgary, Alberta. In the 2016-17 season he finished as the Seawolves’ highest scorer and top finisher at the national championships. Nacuik placed 20th in the slalom and the giant slalom.

Field is also on the alpine team and originally from Pemberton, B.C. Field earned the title of Second Team All-RMISA honors. She also finished runner-up in the women’s giant slalom at the RMISA championships. Field earned four top-10 results during her season.

The men’s and women’s basketball nominations went to Suki Wiggs and Kiki Robertson, respectively.

Wiggs proved to be the highest scorer in GNAC for the second year in a row, averaging 24.4 points per game, also the fifth highest in all of Div. II. In addition, Wiggs earned First Team All-West Region honors, First Team All-GNAC honors and a spot in the top-25 of the Bevo Francis Award.

Robertson, originally from Hawaii, ended her senior year with an impressive career of 700 assists, 382 steals and 116 total wins. She finished off her career ranked with her team as No. 2 in the nation while also being the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year.

For hockey, Matt Anholt, a junior, was nominated for the award. Anholt, a Saskatchewan local, contributed 22 points and 17 assists for the Seawolves this year. Anholt was also a team captain.

The final nominations were for both track and field seasons, indoor and outdoor.

Jamie Ashcroft and Dominik Notz made the list for indoor track and field, while Joyce Chelimo and Cody Thomas were nominated for outdoor track and field.

Ashcroft, a senior for Shawnigan Lake, B.C was nominated due to her 2017 performances in indoor track and field, including a seventh place finish in both the 200m and 4x400m relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships. In addition, Ashcroft won her fourth straight GNAC title in both the 60m and 200m.

Notz was named for his exemplary performances in his distance events. He earned his third and fourth indoor All-American honors and also placed fifth in the 5k and 7th in the 3K at Indoor Nationals. Notz also holds the UAA and GNAC records for the 3K.

Chelimo, a Kapsowar, Kenya local, was named due to her previous 2016 outdoor performances. She was named to the second team All-American in the 5K as well as earning a GNAC title in the 10K. Chelimo also holds the UAA record in the 5K and 10K; her 10K time is also a GNAC record and the fifth fastest ever in Div. II.

The final nomination before the winner, Thomas, a national Decathlete champion — and the first ever Seawolf to do so — was nominated for his 2016 outdoor performances. The New Zealand local won the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the decathlete, also breaking the GNAC record in the event. Thomas earned the USTFCCCA’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for the 2016 outdoor season.

Morgan Hooe goes for the set in a home game at the Alaska Airlines Center. Hooe made All-American honors in 2016, and also led her team to the NCAA Division II finals. Photo credit: Marc Lester

Last, but exceptionally not least, is Morgan Hooe, the official nomination for volleyball and the 2016 Athlete of the Year.

May 4, 2017 Brenda Craig
Kally Greene-Gudmundson, left, strikes a pose at her bodybuilding competition in October 2016. Greene-Gudmundson placed first in her class of 11 and second overall in three classes. Photo credit: Kally Greene-Gudmundson

After four years, Kally Greene-Gudmundson, double major in marketing and business management, will be graduating from UAA this spring. Throughout high school, Greene-Gudmundson was active in sports and once she started college, she had to find a new outlet for fitness. Greene-Gudmundson started going to the gym regularly, grew interested in bodybuilding and eventually began training for competitions.

“At first, it was just something to keep me in shape and occupied until I started meeting people who competed,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “After watching them compete, it really enticed me and made me feel like it was something I could do.”

Greene has been bodybuilding for a year and a half now and has participated in two competitions, one in April of 2016 and the second last October. In her first competition, Greene-Gudmundson placed seventh out of eleven and didn’t do as well as she thought, this pushed her to work even harder for the next competition.

“I was not nearly as prepared as I could have been, I approached it with the ‘It’s not that hard’ mindset and I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “I began training for the October show in June, pushing myself significantly harder than before and practicing my posing everyday.”

Greene-Gudmundson’s training paid off for her competition in October. She placed first in her class of 11 and second over all three classes. She plans on competing again this year.

“I’ll compete again within the next year at the state level and based on my performance there. I’ll consider a national show; I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like feeling like I’m not the best I can be, so I’m very anxious to work my way up as far as my abilities will allow. It’s honestly so amazing what the human body can do and just in the short time I’ve been training, the changes that have taken place keep me motivated to see how far I can push myself,” Greene-Gudmundson said.

Watching her body transition through training is what keeps Greene-Gudmundson motivated to push even harder. Sometimes she is surprised by what her body can do compared to where she was a year and a half ago with training.

“My favorite thing about bodybuilding has got to be the high you get when you hit a new PR, it’s honestly the most gratifying feeling,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “When I first started training, I was excited to even be pushing half of my body weight, now after 18 months, I’m pushing almost double, sometimes triple my body weight and just the concept of knowing you’re physically capable of doing that blows my mind.”

Most people dread going to the gym, but this is not the case for Greene-Gudmudson. Not only was it a stress reliever through busy times, but it was a way for her to escape.

“The gym has become my favorite part of the day, whether it’s been a good or bad day once you get there and put your headphones in, you’re in your own world and knowing you can move that kind of weight makes you almost feel invincible, it’s my outlet for everything,” Greene-Gudmundson said.

Like many students starting college, Greene-Gudmundson was unsure of the direction she wanted to go in school. She was drawn to marketing because she knew business would give her a decent foundation for future careers. During her junior year, she was advised by a friend to double major in marketing and management, which only has a difference of seven classes. Taking on school full time, she is able to graduate in four years.

“I went into it with the mindset that I’d be set back a semester, but after weighing in a full course load during the summer time and 21 credits per term I was able to graduate on time,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “I wasn’t at all expecting to enjoy my classes as much as I have and a big part of that goes to some of the amazing professors the college of business has, overall I know this was a perfect choice for a career field for me.”

To celebrate her achievement, Greene-Gudmundson has a trip planned after graduation and will come home to a full-time job.

“I leave the day after graduation for Costa Rica, I’ve never been outside of the country aside from Canada so I’m really looking forward to it,” Greene-Gudmundson said. “When I get back, I’ll start full time at NANA Development Corporation where I’ve been for the last two school years.”

Through the dieting, training and taking on 21 credits per semester, Greene is proud of her achievements and is looking forward to being a part of commencement. At this spring graduation, Greene will be doing a different kind of walk down the stage, striking a pose in her cap and gown.

May 4, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

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Until this semester, Nicholas Maurer didn’t think he should be allowed to vote, because he didn’t believe he helped his community enough. Maurer is 18, going on 19, and one of many young voters who declined to register or vote in elections. Then Maurer took Marsha Olson’s Fundamentals of Oral Communication, COMM 111 class, and he said he finally felt like he deserved the right to vote.

“I felt like at the time, because I didn’t work personally, I wasn’t contributing to the world by helping society out,” Maurer said. “For myself I didn’t feel I should vote until I was contributing something myself.”

For Maurer, that contribution came in the form of voter registration stations he did in his COMM 111 class. Maurer, and other students have said this class helps them feel engaged with politics, partly because they participate in voter engagement and registration stations. Since starting the registration stations, Olson said her classes have registered around 350 people on campus. Olson has been running voter engagement stations for the last three semesters, and she said their goal is to get college students, young voters who are typically absent at the polls, to register to vote.

“One of the big things we noticed on campus is there are no registration drives, you can register to vote, but it is not very well publicized,” Olson said. “One of the ways to get people to register, if it is not on their radar, is to put it on their radar.”

Bringing awareness to upcoming elections is also a goal of the voter registration stations. For the fall semester of 2016 most students were aware of the Presidential elections, but Olson believes local elections, like the Anchorage Municipality election that happened the first week of April, are even more important elections to bring awareness to.

Olson said she has her COMM 111 students run the voter registration stations so that they can become more involved in the process, but also so that they learn how to use their voice, a skill she believes is her job to teach in COMM 111. Olson got the initial inspiration from the musical, ‘Hamilton,and the quote “If you stand for nothing Burr, what will you fall for?”

“My whole job is teaching people to find their voice, I teach oral communication, I want people to be able to stand up, whether it is politically or personally, and [the quote] was really inspiring to me and made me feel like there had to be something we could be doing to encourage students to use their voice,” Olson said. “At the same time, I had a couple of students in class who made some comments about tuition increases, and health care costs, they were side comments they had made… but it resonated with me because what it showed was that their voice wasn’t being heard.”

Since starting the voter registration project, Olson has been able to see her own students, students like Maurer register and become more informed about political issues. Olson said her best success story to date was a woman from her first semester conducting the project.

“She registered and voted for the first time in the April election last year, which is a municipal election,” Olson said. “She had never voted before, and she was an immigrant to the country so she wasn’t born in the U.S. Although she was a citizen, she had never registered, and I think she was relatively new. The more we talked about it in class, the more she researched, the more important she realized that it was.”

Through her research, Olson’s student realized what role voting in elections played in citizenship.

“She came up to me right before the election last year and said, ‘You know I had no idea this was so significant a part of being a citizen and this was my duty. I have already researched every candidate and I know who I am going to vote for, and I researched the ballot measures, and I even told my husband that he has to vote this year, because he hasn’t been voting either. We talked about who we should be voting for and we’re going to go and bring our kid with us,’” Olson said.

As a student participating in the voter registration stations, Maurer said he couldn’t tell people to vote without being a registered voter himself.

“Right now, just by being able to get out there and try to help people to register to vote and to be working and serving myself, kind of becoming a more responsible adult– I felt like I was sort of contributing more around me,” Maurer said. “I feel like if I am going to be helping people to register to vote, then I should be doing my part as well.”

Rea Barcelon, sophomore, was also in Olson’s COMM 111 class, and she said the impact of her voter registration booth this spring was a positive one.

“I felt like it was pretty important, like not enough people do, a lot of people do want younger people to [go vote] but she’s actually putting in action to,” Barcelon said. “Putting into action is really important, because if no one is going to do anything about it, then nothing is going to really change. At least she’s trying to get it out there for her classes.”

Olson said she plans to continue the voter registration stations but that the stations will evolve to be more education based, and less focused on registration because of a ballot measure that passed last fall to tie signing up for the PFD and voter registration together. Overall, Olson has seen her voter registrations, and the research and work students in her classes do leading up to the stations, succeed in their goal of registering members of the UAA community and teaching her COMM 111 students to use their voice.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend
Vincent Gregory, English major, has taken eight years to reach graduation after the culture shock of moving to Anchorage from Kalskag. Gregory hopes to pursue graduate school in the future. Photo credit: Young Kim

Most people believe that it takes four years to graduate college, but the reality is that many students don’t graduate in that four-year time frame. For many UAA students, the path to graduation can be much longer.

Vincent Gregory is a graduating senior majoring in English. Vincent has been at UAA since the spring semester of 2009. When Gregory started college, he felt he wasn’t prepared.

“No one showed me the ropes… I didn’t know what advisers were, GER’s, DegreeWorks,” Gregory said. “[I] was completely in the dark about everything.”

Gregory is a product of the poor college readiness in the villages of Alaska, and the poor outreach given to remote locations. Gregory is an Alaska Native student hailing from Kalskag, a small village near Bethel, where outreach isn’t the best.

“It took me about a year to find my footing,” Gregory said.

Gregory talked in length about the culture shock of moving to the city, and the help he received to get back on track. The main problem is that the university struggles to recruit native students, but when they do enroll, UAA struggles on how to keep students on the right track to graduate.

Gregory wants to enroll into a master’s program or get another degree involving his native heritage, and one day carve over 10,000 rings.

“If I took everything I knew now and put it back in my freshman year… I would’ve graduated now,” Gregory said. “You shouldn’t feel rushed or pressured in school… I say start school when you’re ready and at a pace you feel comfortable with, otherwise you might as well be chased by wolves.”

Chris Richardson has been at UAA since January of 2010. Richardson fell off track due to personal issues, but believes that straying off the beaten path is a part of life.

“I was originally a computer science major, and then after I found out I had to take calculus… the week after that, I was an English major,” Richardson said.

Richardson also aspires to be a famous author. His poem book, “Taking Back the Romantic” is finished, and Richardson has been talking with publishers to get it printed.

“I want to become a well-known author…like James Patterson, like that well-known…that would be amazing,” Richardson said. “It doesn’t matter if it takes four years or seven years. As long as you get there..that’s the whole point.”

While Gregory and Richardson get ready for commencement, Stone Sibbett is getting ready for another semester attending UAA.

Sibbett has been at UAA for about four years now, and he doesn’t really know when he’ll be finished. He is currently majoring in social work but is trying to change to a custom major in therapeutic recreation with a minor in outdoor leadership.

Like Richardson, Sibbett’s long tenure at UAA can be contributed to him changing majors.

“I originally got an associates degree in human services, then switched to the bachelor’s degree and then switched to social work,” Sibbett said. “And then I decided I rather do something outside in the recreation therapy side of things. it would be something I would enjoy.”

Sibbett has also run into a roadblock in terms of when he is going to graduate.

“If I wanted to pursue something in the outdoor field, I need more time outside. So I have to get outdoor experience, and that doesn’t mater if I have the degree or not… So I’m not super gung-ho on finishing,” Sibbett said. “I can’t really make money in that field either unless I go out and work for somebody at a low-wage job for quite a long time.”

For now, Sibbett and his roommates have started trying to make laundry soap and cargo bike frames to sell to people in parts of the world without bikes.

“I guess my degree has become more of a hobby. ‘Cause with manufacturing it’s something I can make money with now, where I can’t make money with [my degree], instead I want to pursue my degree and do something with it eventually to benefit,” Sibbett said. “I would encourage anyone that is considering taking longer time to get their degree [to] really consider what they want out [of] their degree… one thing that helped me in my education is I started taking classes in things I would enjoy and enrich my life,” Sibbett said.

There are a multitude of reasons why someone won’t graduate on time, be it personal reasons, lack of college readiness or even just trying to find the right career path. Everybody in life takes shortcuts, not everyone can stay on the same road. For these UAA students, they just took the long way around.

May 4, 2017 Sarah Tangog

Retirement at UAA is booming and UAA’s Human Resources Office is burdened with retirement forms.

“A lot of people will leave at the end of the fiscal year,” Michelle Yerkes and Randi Markussen, from UAA’s Human Resources offices, said. “This is the time of year where the majority of people will retire.”

Additionally, retirement trends may be increasing due to a decrease in faculty morale. According to a UAA Faculty Morale Survey taken in August of 2016, 43.94 percent of faculty morale has declined, and 28.05 percent of faculties do not feel positive about the security of their job at UAA.

Unfortunately, there are no retirement statistics set in place for 2017.

“We just don’t have [retirement statistics] at this point in time,” Yerkes and Markussen said.

Not just anyone can choose to retire, however.

“They have to be eligible,” Erika van Flein, director of benefits statewide, said.

There are two main plans at the state level for retirement: The Teachers’ Retirement System and the Public Employees’ Retirement System. Both require the age of 60 to become eligible. The TRS requires 20 years of teaching service, while the PERS requires 30 years of public service.

Both TRS and PERS also provide early retirement plans, which require being vested and the age of 55 to become eligible. TRS and PERS benefits include lifelong pension and health insurance.

“UAA employees who are in the defined benefit plans must reach retirement eligibility by either age or service, terminate employment and file an application for retirement with the Division of Retirement and Benefits. Retirement is effective the first of the month following all requirements being fulfilled,” Kathleen Lea, chief pension officer at the Department of Administration, said.

Retirement is the reward for both teachers and public employees after their years of service.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend
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Geser Bat-Erdene Alec Burris pose for a picture for their USUAA campaign. Photo credit: Alec Burris and Geser Bat-Erdene

The USUAA elections are over, and Alec Burris and Geser Bat-Erdene have won the positions of president and vice president for the 2017-18 academic year. This election also turned out to be highly successful, as it had higher voter turnout than the last three USUAA elections.

Burris is a freshman majoring in biology and has always had a deep interest in student government.

“I would travel the 45 to 1 hour drive from Wasilla to Anchorage so I could go to their bi-weekly meetings to see what their student government is like,” Burris said. “Once I learned that the current president wasn’t going to run, I felt that somebody needed to step up and run the organization, and that I knew it well enough to run.”

His running mate, Bat-Erdene is a foreign exchange student from Mongolia majoring in finance, and has been a USUAA senator for over a year.

“The opportunity to work with people who truly care about the university and work hard to achieve mutual goals is why I ran for vice president,” Bat-Erdene said. “Becoming a [vice president] is a great honor for me. I was truly happy that the students of UAA are very open-minded, and the fact that an international student was elected for a USUAA leadership tells how diversity is welcomed on the campus.”

Burris and Bat-Erdene are both deeply involved with student government around campus and are excited to start their new positions.

“I’m very excited to start delivering on the promises we made during our campaign,” Burris said. “We are going to try to start working on the issues with security cameras, working with the administration about Title IX, and looking at assessing fees.”

Sam Erickson, USUAA president for the 2016-17 academic year, believes that the two successors will learn by seeing him and vice president, Johanna Richter, in action.

“There is a relatively well-established process for transitioning leadership in USUAA, but in this case it’s made even easier since Alec has significant experience in the organization already… I’ll begin having him shadow me in USUAA meetings, introducing him at events, meeting administrative, faculty and staff leaders, and bringing him up to date on the projects I’m currently working on,” Erickson said. “Johanna will be doing the same for Geser, and the goal is to be able to completely turn over the organization. Obviously, I will still be around and able to give advice for the next year, but I am confident that Alec will be able to pick right up where Johanna and I left off.”

Burris and Bat-Erdene both look forward to serving the students of UAA.

“You can definitely [be] looking for student government to be active on campus,” Burris said. “Oftentimes we are in the background doing a lot of work that the students don’t see. I think looking forward you’re going to see us in the forefront, because we really care about students seeing that their student fees are being used to best of their ability. That’s what we are going to do for the student government.”

Burris and Bat-Erdene’s term as USUAA president and vice president began on April 28 and will continue through the 2017-18 academic year.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend
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Tom Case speaks at an event on UAA's campus. Case has served as the chancellor of the university for six years. Photo credit: Corey Hester

On April 12, UAA Chancellor Tom Case announced via email that he will retire this summer.

In the email sent out to students and staff on campus, Case wrote, “I am humbled to have done meaningful and rewarding work alongside passionate, dedicated people who believe in providing opportunities for students to change their lives for the better.”

In response to this resignation, UA President Jim Johnsen sent out an email regarding this announcement.

“It is with a great deal of sadness that I announce today that University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Tom Case plans to retire at the end of June,” Johnsen said in the email. “Tom has served the university with integrity, good humor and dedication…[I am] heartened by the joy he will have in retirement as well as by the excellent leadership team he has developed.”

Tom Case served as the Dean of College and Business for six years until he left for a break and returned in 2011 as the new chancellor. Case worked hard to expand the programs and facilities on campus, and oversaw the growth of the Seawolf debate team, ANSEP programs and oversaw the national success of intercollegiate programs.

“I’m going to miss the wonderful people here and the environment in which we all learn from each other and our students are afforded opportunities to make major changes in their lives,” Case said. “What I have done is help orchestrate the accomplishments of many, so I don’t take credit for my accomplishments… It’s been a team effort.”

Case’s retirement is effective June 30. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Sam Gingerich will serve as interim chancellor.

“It’s really with mixed feelings that I do retire and leave,” Case said. “But I won’t be leaving UAA. I’ll continue to support UAA in every way that I can, I believe in this institution… I think it does have a great future.”

There will be a celebration for Case’s accomplishments and his retirement on May 8 at the Varsity Center Grill in the Alaska Airlines Center from 4 – 6 p.m.

May 4, 2017 Alexis Abbott

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In the current standing of the state’s financial crisis, higher education in Alaska has taken another economic toll.

Budget reductions, department cuts and program eliminations are just some of the challenges that have impacted the University of Alaska this year. A five percent tuition increase has been confirmed for next fall, and a potential additional raise in the spring of the 2017-18 academic year.

As far as a mid-year tuition increase, UA administration will do their best to “keep the increase in the five to ten percent range,” according to UA President Jim Johnsen.

A five to ten percent tuition raise translates to about a $400 to $800 increase per year for a full-time student.

“If we do not get the funding we need from the state, our ability to meet the high standards that students deserve will require additional revenue. We are working to increase private giving to UA, and if our budget from the state falls short, we’ll need to step up tuition as well,” Johnsen said. “Today, our tuition is 19 percent under the western states’ average, so even after a tuition hike, our tuition will still be very affordable for our students.”

Since 2015, Alaska’s state allocation has been cut nearly $50 million. In response, UA has looked for increased revenues from many sources, including tuition. Johnsen stated that a mid-year increase for academic year 2016-17 was controversial, so he set that option aside for 2017-18.

Stacey Lucason, student member of the UA Board of Regents noted that there has been tuition raises every year since being at UAA, and that she believes that it may be a pattern with inflation in the state.

Lucason said that the potential mid-year tuition raise will “likely” be discussed at the next Board of Regents meeting.

Next year’s five percent tuition hike will follow several years of tuition raises, most recently, a five percent raise for the 2016-17 academic year. Johnsen noted that with a reasonable budget from the Alaska legislature, that future tuition increases should not exceed ten percent.

After an already confirmed tuition raise for the fall semester, some students worry what an additional mid-year increase will mean for their education.

Bria Anderson, a junior dental hygiene major, admitted that she is concerned how future tuition hikes will affect her future at UAA.

“I find it discouraging that every year I am having to pay more and more to go to my state’s college. I already have to take out student loans to attend UAA, and consistent tuition raises make my situation more difficult,” Anderson said.

According to the College Board, the average cost for tuition for the 2016–2017 school year was $10,510 at private colleges, $8,340 for state residents at public colleges. The national average yearly tuition raise is just a little over three percent per year.

UA reported it’s full-time undergraduate tuition rate at $6,360, slightly more affordable than most out of state institutions.

Whether there will be a mid-year tuition increase in addition to the five percent for the 2017-18 academic year, will be determined in the near future by UA administration, Johnsen and the Board of Regents.

May 4, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
While spending time in Nepal, economics professor Jim Murphy met another student who showed him he could evaluate environmental policy issues using economics. Photo credit: Young Kim

Before economics professor Jim Murphy knew about economics, he was working in the San Francisco bay area. A recession hit the company he was working at, and he decided to go trekking in Nepal.

“The company laid me off and they gave me a six-month severance package, so I took the money and went trekking in Nepal,” Murphy said. “I wouldn’t say I went on a soul-searching expedition — it was really just that I was 25 — and I had six months of money in my pocket, so I went to Nepal. I met a guy who was an environmental economics student… Before that time I wasn’t aware that economics could be used to understand environmental policy issues.”

The environmental economics student Murphy met introduced him to an economic approach to solving environmental problems. At Villanova University, Murphy switched majors frequently, starting off as a business major, before realizing that he wanted a broader education and switched to German. As a German major he didn’t realize he needed to learn two languages to meet major requirements, and he didn’t have enough time for that, so he switched to the Honors Program. Very few of the honors classes interested him, so he decided not to focus on that either.

“I graduated as general arts [major] which is kind of code for undeclared humanities major,” Murphy said. “But I collected a lot of minors; I wound up with a business minor, a German minor, and an honors. Indirectly I wound up with a pretty well-rounded education but no real focus.”

It wasn’t until that mountaintop in Nepal that Murphy realized his academic calling was in economics, so he went to the University of California Davis to pursue a master’s, and later a Ph.D., in agricultural and resource economics.

While a graduate student, Murphy became acquainted with Vernon Smith, a 2002 Nobel laureate in Economics. Smith also served as UAA’s first visiting UAA Rasmuson Chair of Economics. After Smith’s term in the position ended, he recommended Murphy for the job. In 2006, Murphy moved from a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to Anchorage to become the next chair.

“I knew I wanted to get into academics because I like teaching and I like research. I wanted to find a job that let me do both well,” Murphy said. “I love my research, but I don’t want a job where all I do is research and not teach because I also enjoy working with students.”

At UAA, Murphy continued to conduct research, and many of his research projects led him too far corners of the world. He is currently working on the last year of a four-year project about fisheries in Chile that is funded by FONDECYT, which is the Chilean National Science Foundation. His past research projects also focus on natural resources, like fieldwork he conducted in Colombia studying rural management of natural resources, and field experiments in Western Alaska and Far East Russia. When he is not researching, he is teaching at UAA or at a partner university in China as the Chairman of Nankai University Vernon L. Smith Experimental Economics Lab.

“Every summer I go there for a few weeks and work with them, I teach a class to their graduate students,” Murphy said, “I advise their faculty on the projects they’re working on, I try and help them think about, if they get a program started, what would it look like. Here’s what we did, here’s what you can do.”

Nankai University in China is a good example of how UAA’s experimental economics program has gained international recognition, Murphy said. The experimental economics program is now ranked in the top 10 percent of programs internationally, and the department has even broken UAA faculty application records.

“Before Elmer Rasmuson donated the funds to endow the Chair when a faculty position in the economics department opened up, the average amount of applicants was 20 to 30 people.The most recent faculty position we just hired for the job…we had almost 300 applications,” Murphy said. “It’s a university record for the most applications for any full-time job on campus, and we got our top candidate. We had a huge pool of people, and we got who we thought was the best person, which was awesome.”

In the future, Murphy hopes to continue growing the experimental economics program while minimizing the harm budget cuts might have on it. He plans to continue researching, as well as spend time outdoors doing activities he loves like hiking, biking, skiing and fishing.

May 4, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
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Stephen Kranich, a North Hall resident and staff, giving a speech during the North Hall Graduation. The graduation serves to recognize and celebrate the completion of North Hall resident's first year in college.

The first year experience hall, North Hall, held its annual graduation ceremony for freshman students who have completed their first year of college on April 29.

Jennifer Edens is the residence coordinator at North Hall and said events such as the North Hall freshman graduation recognize the work it takes to successfully finish the first year of college.

“The purpose [of the graduation] to celebrate the completion of the first year of college for our residents here,” Edens said. “The first year is often the most challenging in many ways; you feel homesick, people have a hard time transitioning and adjusting [and] often acclimating. They need to learn how to manage their time, how to manage their finances, how to study for college, because studying for college is different than studying for high school, and they get a taste of adulting.”

Makayla Newman is a North Hall resident adviser who helped Edens plan the event. Newman said her first-year graduation was a great experience, and that events like North Hall graduation build a supportive community.

“It is a lot easier to stay in the university once you’ve been here longer than a year. Looking back at my freshman year, it wasn’t quite as difficult as this year, but I felt more inclined to go home because I was homesick, and less stable here,” Newman said. “Just celebrating that they’ve made it through not the most challenging year, but the most challenging as far as being homesick and lonely and not having a lot of friends, because after the first year they’re more stable and they can handle things that make them want to go home.”

Edens said that students are more likely to stay in college if they finish their first year, and as the first year coordinator, she said her goal is to get higher retention of first year students from semester to semester.

“The longer students stay, the more likely they are to graduate,” Edens said. “[Retention is] on par — it’s been normal. We would like to see it fewer. It would be ideal to see 100 percent of students who come in the fall remain throughout the whole year, but that’s not where we are right now.”

Newman said that there are a lot of factors that influence a student leaving the university in their first year, but that it is important to celebrate those who do complete the year.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of factors that play into whether or not we retain students like some students get like a semester or two in and realize they can’t afford it or they’re not completely dedicated to their studies, or something terrible happens and they have to go home,” Newman said. “There’s just a lot of different things that can happen, but it’s just hard to retain them. We’re trying to do programs and stuff so they won’t be homesick and go home because that’s something that is a little more fixable than financial and academic or family issues.”

One of the speakers at the North Hall graduation ceremony was Residence Hall Association president, Nathan Burns.

“It’s a good thing to recognize that getting past the biggest hump is an important accomplishment and it only gets easier from here, and it’s a nice little get together to thank everybody here,” Burns said. “It does feel, especially for those living on campus, they get more of college experience than if they lived at home or commuted in.”

At the graduation, first-year students were handed certificates with their name congratulating them on completing their first year of college.

May 4, 2017 Chance Townsend


The National Student Exchange is a study-away experience that fits into university initiatives for globalization, diversity and engagement. NSE provides study-away opportunities to students enrolled at its 170 member colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Established in 1968, NSE has provided exchange opportunities to more than 110,000 students. For many students, the chance to explore new environments are experiences that wouldn’t be possible without NSE.

Kaliegh Hayes, from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, describes coming to Alaska as “something different.”

Hayes had a rather slim chance of traveling through the program.

“I walked into the NSE coordinator’s office, and was like, ‘Hey I want to go to Alaska,’” Hayes said. “She told me that wasn’t going to happen, she said I had a 10 percent chance, because I did the application in September and it was supposed to be in by March.”

Now that she is here, Hayes has a fondness for the state.

“It’s very different up here,” Hayes said. “I like the mountains… I like the scenery, the environment, I like that it’s different than anything else in the world, but I miss Dunkin Donuts.”

One of Hayes’ friends from NSE is Nathalie Trow-McDonald, who is from the University of the Virgin Islands. The university is only a five-minute walk to the beach.

“I’m not used to having to wear pants every day, and not wear flip flops… For a long time I missed the feeling of the sun on my skin,” Trow-McDonald said. “I think there are certain things on campus that I miss, ’cause I was really involved in certain things and they keep happening when you’re gone… I miss my radio station.”

What Trow-McDonald likes the most about UAA and Alaska is its proximity to the mountains and trails.

“I like that you’re in a city, but you can drive 20 minutes and be hiking up a mountain,” Trow-McDonald said. “The views are really nice, and I enjoy the ice-skating.”

Rachel Barclay is another participant in the NSE from the University of South Dakota. Barclay has been to 49 of the 50 states and that was a big reason on why she decided to come to UAA.

“It’s not as flat… and I like seeing the random moose,” Barclay said. “It’s a lot prettier here, and I like the mountains.”

The three women have since become friends since they met, and have done everything from going UAA basketball games and participating in nature excursions.

“I went whale-watching in Seward with Kaliegh, that was fun,” Barclay said. “I can’t remember everything we’ve done, we’ve done a lot… so much fun, so little time.”

Adventures aside, NSE does serve as a large time commitment.

“I miss my family a lot,” Hayes said. “I think that any prospective student that wants to take the NSE program has to consider how long they’re going be away from home. But it’s a great experience all students should consider. I highly recommend NSE if you want to expand your horizons and try something new… and you can open doors to new places.”

UAA also provides the opportunity for students to participate in NSE and travel to one of over 200 colleges in the U.S. Applications are due in February.

May 4, 2017 Brenda Craig

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On May 17, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation will be providing a job training titled From College to Career: How to get a great first job. This event will be located at Bear Tooth Theater-pub from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. with a $3 entry fee. This will be one of AEDC’s “Job Skills Boot Camps” that will be put on throughout Anchorage to help prepare recent graduates apply and interview for their first jobs. At this event, individuals will learn how to build a noticeable resume, find jobs that aren’t advertised and how to network.

“The College to Career event is geared specifically to recent college graduates to help them find a job right out of college that helps fulfill their career goals,” Moira Sullivan, Live. Work. Play. director at AEDC, said. “We’ve been putting together a curriculum specific to college graduates and lining up presenters from the business community, many of whom are hiring managers or HR directors and can speak directly to what they look for in candidates.”

Many graduates have the technical skills that they have learned throughout college. However, the College to Career training will focus on soft skills and professionalism. They will not only help individuals to pursue a job but be successful in that job.

“There will be five different modules, presented by business leaders in Anchorage, covering everything from effective networking, how to use your LinkedIn profile to get you interviews and jobs, best practices for resume writing that will get you past an automated screen, interview etiquette, and tips to impress your boss and colleagues in your first weeks on the job, putting you in place to be successful and get promotions and raises,” Sullivan said.

When Sullivan graduated college, she faced many problems when looking for a job. She was given the same excuse most jobs give, that they were looking for three to five years of experience. This inspired her to start these trainings for graduates.

“As LWP Director, I wanted AEDC to put on this College to Career event this year so that other Anchorage grads would have advantages in entering the job market that allows them to get jobs they might otherwise be turned down for, and learn about opportunities that they might not know about. I don’t want our recent grads to have the same experience I did in job hunting here in Anchorage,” Sullivan said.

The College to Career training hopes to help these graduates find a job in town to prevent discouraged individuals from leaving the state.

“When college grads like me feel defeated looking for jobs in Anchorage, they’re likely to leave the state and find a job elsewhere — and as a city, we simply can’t continue to ship out our brightest young people to the Lower 48 where they create economic opportunities for other communities and not ours. Helping graduates find the jobs they want after college is critical to reducing brain drain,” Sullivan said.

Students are eager to attend this event and excited to take away what they will learn from the training and apply it in the future. Many students do not have the experience in searching for a career and are often intimidated about what comes after college.

“My whole life I’ve been a student, so I feel like when I graduate I am not going to know what to do next,” Madi Burgess, health science major, said. “I think this is an awesome event because hopefully it will show students that there are things future employers are looking for and that it doesn’t have to be as scary as we think it’s going to be.”

Many of the skills that will be taught at this event are ones that employers look for in applicants. With fresh minds out of college, they believe this training will go hand in hand with their hunger to succeed.

“This training would benefit students by helping to equip them with some of the soft skills that employers say that potential employees often lack,” Sean Carpenter, communications director at AEDC, said. “Because there is no one stop resource for this type of training and searching online can provide mixed results, we thought that offering this training would help compliment the knowledge that students come away with when they graduate.”

This event highlights the fact that there are various job opportunities, it’s just a matter of how they are approached.

“I think the most important thing students and graduates will take away from this event is that there are great jobs in Anchorage for recent graduates, and that while the system for finding those job leads, getting interviews and offers at great companies can be complicated and sometimes unfair, there are ways to play the game to give yourself maximum advantage,” Sullivan said.

From College to Career is part of AEDC’s push to offer free and inexpensive job skills seminars for Anchorage community members. College graduates are encouraged to attend, but the training is open to the public.

May 4, 2017 Jacob Holley-Kline

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Here’s a good litmus test for average movies: a day after the credits roll, how much can you remember? I’ll tell you what I remember from “The Ones Below.” I remember an awkward dinner party, too many knocks at the characters’ door to count, and a botched ending. It’s frustrating to watch overqualified actors try to make a stale script fresh even though they succeed time and time again.

Adding onto the frustration, director David Farr has a good sense of tension and atmosphere. He’s got a claustrophobic style, chock full of close-ups and some intricate framing. He follows simple set-ups through beautifully, like the titular neighbors shoes outside their door, and constantly plays with what those images mean. But the script is an unexceptional, faux-Hitchcockian bore.

Clemence Poesy as Kate and Stephen Campbell Moore as Justin deserve meatier material. They’re talents are mostly wasted here. Same goes for their co-stars David Morrissey as Jon and Laura Birn as Theresa. Morrissey’s Jon is an explosive presence, crafting tension with eyebrow raises and steely glares. His relationship with Theresa is deeply messed up. Both yearn to be parents, and, after months of trying, they’re successful.

They move in below our protagonists, the soon-to-be parents Kate and Justin. To welcome them, the couple invites Jon and Theresa over for dinner. It’s one of the best scenes in the movie, so I’ll leave the details scant, but Theresa ends up falling down the complex’s stairs and suffering a miscarriage. They leave soon after to grieve, only to return a few months later. After their return, Kate and Justin’s life begins falling apart, and neither knows why.

The answer is obvious. That’s the worst flaw in the movie. It plays like its secret is well-hidden, but no misdirection is even attempted. Everything points to Jon and Theresa. Past a point, the movie accepts that the viewer knows what’s up and changes directions. Spoiler alert: Jon and Theresa gaslight Kate to the point of her relationship crumbling. But it’s so lazy that it throws the movie off-balance.

Finishing the job, the terrible ending turns the whole thing over. Without spoiling anything, there’s an abrupt change in perspective right at the end. It acts like what’s happening isn’t obvious, and drags the viewer along to the least surprising “reveal” in a long time. “The Ones Below” acts like it’s clever, but really, it’s just another missed opportunity.

May 4, 2017 Victoria Petersen
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Photo credit: Victoria Petersen

Summer is upon us, and fresh salmon will be running soon. Make room in your freezer and use up last year’s salmon haul with this tasty recipe from a 2017 graduate. For a simple and delicious preparation, my friend, and geology graduate, Sasha Peterson bakes the salmon with just two other ingredients. The savory sun-dried tomato and citrus flavors of the lemon pepper make for a decadent meal, and a tasty way to get your Omega-3 fatty acids. Add a side of sauteed kale and some rice or quinoa.

This recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes. Sasha used the refrigerated kind that is in a jar. This allows the tomatoes to be saturated in oil, adding to the flavor of the salmon. Sprinkle with capers for added decadence.


1 salmon fillet

1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon pepper


1. Place salmon fillet on a sheet of foil.

2. Sprinkle the lemon pepper evenly over the salmon fillet.

3. With a spoon, drizzle the sun-dried tomatoes and oil over the fillet until the fillet is covered.

4. Fold the foil inwards creating a cocoon for the salmon to cook in.

5. Allow the salmon to cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the salmon flakes against a fork brushing the center of the fillet.

6. Optionally garnish with lemon and capers.

May 4, 2017 Sarah Tangog
Nina Lee follows in the shoes of 2016 fall commencement speaker, Sophie Leshan, another graduate of the early childhood education program. Photo credit: Sarah Tangog

This year’s commencement speech will be given by Nina Lee, early childhood major. Though she started going to college in San Diego, she eventually dropped out and decided to come to UAA instead.

“I started classes at UAA in 2010. I did not do well then either, I didn’t finish any of the classes that I started,” Lee said. “I began my undergrad in spring 2015 with 13 credits from San Diego, and finished my undergrad in two years.”

Because of her story, Lee was compelled to apply as the commencement speaker the moment she started her undergraduate education.

“I feel my story and how I got here is very relatable, and that UAA’s community is very unique in that it houses both traditional students, but also non-traditional students. That’s me,” Lee said.

The commencement speaker is ultimately chosen by Vice Chancellor Bruce Schultz.

“In selecting the student commencement speaker, I consider the totality of the process and rely heavily on the evaluations of the students who served on the committee that reviews, evaluates and recommends finalists to me,” Schultz said. “Drawing on the recommendation of the evaluation committee, I make the final selection for student commencement speaker.”

The committee itself is usually composed of at least one faculty member, the Faculty Senate President, and several graduating students. Paula Fish from Student Life and Leadership provides assistance for the committee.

“My role with the commencement speaker is just coordinating and helping the selection committee or the review committee, in selecting or providing advisement to the Vice Chancellor on who to select,” Fish said. “The Vice Chancellor looks at a student from the pool of students who really exemplifies UAA.”

The student chosen is picked not only for their academic and community involvement, but also for the uniqueness of their story.

“We want students to feel like it’s not something that can’t be attained,” Fish said.

Though the role of the commencement speaker is chosen from a pool of applicants, the applicants can be any student with any background story.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to communicate my journey,” Lee said. “The most important role of a commencement speaker, I feel, is to communicate the challenges that we all face as students, and just relating to each other in a unifying way so that we can all accomplish a common goal of graduating. You’re capable of anything. If you set your mind to it, you can achieve it. Coming from someone who didn’t think I would ever graduate college, how I got to this point was with the support of my friends and my family.”

Lee believes that a great contributor to her success is the help she’s had along the way. She encourages students to seek friendships with peers and build relationships with professors and mentors, as it can help along the way.

May 4, 2017 Alexis Abbott

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The Alaska Senate recently approved Senate Bill 103, the initiative to establish innovative grants for public education and nearly eliminate the Alaska Performance Scholarship. The bill easily passed the Senate in a 12-7 vote.

SB 103 would drastically reduce the highly successful APS by phasing out tier two and three scholarships by Feb. 1, 2021.

If the bill passes, only tier one of the APS would remain, and be available to Alaskan high school graduates with a 3.5 grade point average or better and at least a 25 on the ACT or a 1210 on the SAT.

The bill also proposes to eliminate the need-based Alaska Education Grant program, which helps many students afford education at the University of Alaska.

UA President Jim Johnsen expects the House to approve the bill and continue further through the legislative process.

“We are very concerned about any change that would impact these highly successful programs. We believe that ending the programs would be detrimental to growing our enrollment, encouraging young Alaskans to remain in Alaska for college and then build a career and life here,” Johnsen said.

The APS was created in 2011 to inspire Alaskan high school students to pursue higher education in state. In the 2015-16 academic year, 4,648 students at the University of Alaska benefited from the APS or AEG program.

If the House approves SB 103, 50 percent of high school graduates will no longer be eligible for the APS. That is roughly 1,200 students that will no longer earn the scholarship. Without the APS, many students will no longer have access to affordable higher education.

“As part of its mission to promote student access to and success in education beyond high school, the Commission is concerned that one of the key incentives for Alaska’s students to excel in high school and be prepared for postsecondary and workforce success may be eliminated,” Stephanie Butler, executive director of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, said in a press release.

The Commission adopted a resolution in support of the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grants.

“The investment in the next generation of Alaskans is an important one, not just for students, but for Alaska’s economy as a whole when we can provide our high school graduates with the incentive to remain in Alaska for college and career training and to contribute to a strong Alaska economy, fueled by an Alaskan workforce,” ACPE chair Joey Crum said.

According to ACPE, APS users have a 25 percent higher rate of Alaska residency after graduation, while 83 percent of users say they were influenced by the APS to attend school in Alaska. Butler also noted that almost twice as many APS students at UA are prepared for college work and need no remediation, compared to those that did not receive the APS.

The UA Board of Regents and the Coalition of Student Leaders each passed resolutions in support of the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund, APS and the AEG. The fate of the APS and AEG is currently awaiting the House leaders.

May 4, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy

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Tracen Knopp signs his national letter of intent for Nordic skiing at UAA. In his senior year, Knopp inished fifth in the final Besh Cup standings and was sixth in ASAA Skimeister standings. Photo credit: UAA Athletics

Volleyball 2017-18

With the loss of all-stars Morgan Hooe and Erin Braun, UAA volleyball head coach Chris Green made up the difference with the addition of five new players, two of which have been already practicing with the Seawolves this spring.

The previous two signees for the team included Casey Davenport and Jalisa Ingram. Davenport will be a freshman coming from Auburn, WA and Ingram also a true freshman coming from Flagstaff, AZ.

The first addition is a local from Anchorage who graduated from Dimond High School. Anjoilyn Vreeland was a four year letter awardee on Dimond’s volleyball team, along with current UAA Seawolf and former Dimond Lynx player Leah Swiss. In high school, Vreeland was able to help her team to all four 4-A State Title matches in her career, as well as the championships in 2012 and 2015.

After graduating from Dimond and before coming to play at UAA, Vreeland spent a year in Pendleton, Oregon. She played at Blue Mountain Community College where she average 3.08 digs per set.

Vreeland is currently joined by another newcomer who has already been practicing with the Seawolves. Tara Melton also started her collegiate volleyball career away from UAA before transferring. In Arizona at Glendale Community College, Melton spent two years playing for the team as a middle blocker and right-side hitter.

Green is exceptionally optimistic about the future of the team with Melton. She was able to already play at a competitive level and show her future potential.

The 6-foot-1-inch Melton was also named to the 2016 National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association First Team All-American. She boasted 3.05 kills per set and 0.78 blocks per set in 2016, a switch from her averages in 2015 at 2.03 and 0.83, respectively.

With those, Melton was ranked third nationally in attack percentages, which helped her team to a national third-place in 2015 as well at a 54-8 record during her career there.

“[She] played at the highest level in junior college and proved she can be an elite offensive performer,” Green said.

The final addition to the team is a true freshman from thousands of miles away. Vera Pluharova is traveling to UAA all the way from Nechanice, Czech Republic.

Pluharova was familiar with the Seawolves long before she signed to the team. Due to being a member of the TJ Slavia Hradec Kralove club team, she was able to play against the Seawolves during their 2015 European summer tour and get a glimpse of what a future at UAA looked like.

In addition, it gave Green an insight into her playing ability.

“[She] has been very impressive in the back row this spring and comes from elite high school and club programs, so we are confident she will add great depth,” Green said.

With the official announcements of these five new volleyball players, they are the first additions to the UAA athletic community, with skiing coming second after the official signing of two skiers.

Skiing 2017-18

The alpine ski team lost all four of the total graduating seniors, despite that, head Nordic coach Andrew Kastning was the first to announce his additions on the Nordic side.

Kastning was grateful for the new additions; both being current Alaskan residents. One from Colony High School and the other from West Valley High, they both have excelled in the sport they just signed the national letter of intent for.

“Both [recruits] represent the very best of their respective ski clubs and it is always a big recruiting goal to have the best Alaskans join our team,” Kastning said.

Tracen Knopp is one of the two, and has competed in numerous ski races that ranked him as one of the best, as well as competing in cross country running in the fall.

During his senior year, Knopp took 27th at Junior Nationals in the 15K classic, as well as ranking sixth at the ASAA Skimeister standings. In addition, he placed fifth in the final Besh Cup standings.

To add to the female Nordic team, Jenna DiFolco signed her national letter of intent. As far as Besh Cup standings, DiFolco came out ranked No. 1 for women under 18.

In the ASAA Skimeister standings, she placed third, and at Junior Nationals she competed in two events, placing in the top 25 for both.

Both have shown obvious potential and ability to transition into a collegiate career of skiing, and according to Kastning, they will have years to continue to improve and grow.

As far as other sports, incoming recruits will be announced throughout the next several months. National letters of intent are generally signed during April, but coaches and teams can accumulate other athletes and walk-ons into late summer months.

April 23, 2017 Sarah Tangog
Photo credit: Jian Bautista

For many biology majors, a microbiology focus is not only beneficial, but recommended. Due to the high demand for microbiology in various biological fields, being educated in the subject will allow more opportunities for jobs around the globe.

“Most states already have some sort of a microbiology program. Microbes are intricately involved in our own lives: how we digest food, there’s research coming out about our own moods, antibiotics, antibiotic resistance in the medical field, to some of the stuff I do out in the environment,” Brandon Briggs, assistant professor for the biology department at UAA, said.

The need for microbiology in various fields is growing, the desire for a course in microbiology is becoming more and more of a necessity.

“[Microbes] really affect every aspect of our lives,” Khrys Duddleston, professor in the biology department, said. “A lot of what we learned, especially early on about genetics, we learned by studying bacteria. Because microorganisms are so easy to grow in the lab — many of them are, I should say — so you can grow them overnight, generate a lot of cells, you can carry out a variety of studies in which you can mutate their genomes.”

Despite the importance, Alaska is the last state to receive a microbiology course.

“We have a lower population in the state compared to others, we don’t have nearly as many universities as other states do,” Duddleston said. “As a consequence of that, I don’t think it’s too surprising then that we were the last state.”

Though the end goal is for UAA’s microbiology course to be a degree, it is still only a focus and will be available starting in the fall semester of 2017. Additional information has not yet been posted on the University Catalog.

April 23, 2017 Brenda Craig
After going viral via Facebook and garnering national attention, associate professor Thomas Chung's painting depicting Captain America, President Donald Trump and a young Hilary Clinton sparked debate regarding freedom of expression. Photo credit: Young Kim

With the stroke of a paintbrush, controversy rises over an art piece that was presented at UAA’s facility art exhibition located in the Fine Arts Building. The “Everything” piece was created by Thomas Chung, assistant professor of painting, who has been teaching at UAA for over three years and has had his current position since last fall. This painting has brought up the question of the First Amendment and whether or not this piece is appropriate for public display.

The painting was inspired by the Greek myth of Perseus and Medusa, which is often shown in artwork with Perseus holding the head of Medusa. Actor Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, is displayed in Chung’s piece holding a protest sign in one hand and the decapitated head of President Donald Trump in the other, referencing the myth of Perseus and Medusa. However, Chung explains how his piece wasn’t necessarily about Trump, but the ugly side of American society that Trump has revealed.

The protest sign Captain America is holding has a quote by Chief Seattle from a letter he wrote to the U.S. before his tribe’s land was taken by force. The quote states, “Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.” Chung chose this quote carefully and if given opportunity for Trump to read his protest sign, this is what he would want it to say.

Hilary Clinton is also present in this painting, shown as her younger self, clinging onto the hero’s leg to represent how America views women. Chung wanted to make fun of how princesses are portrayed as weak and needing saving by an almighty hero.

In the background, there is a scene of a buffalo fall, a technique used to hunt buffalo by herding them off a cliff. On one of the dead buffalo, there is a graffiti tag that says ‘Make America White Again,’ a slogan that was seen around the U.S. after the election.

This painting was started as a way for Chung to express his feelings after the outcome of the presidential election.

“The painting ‘Everything’ came out of my feelings after the election last year, I felt that Trump stood for misogyny, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. When he was elected, I mourned for the death of my belief that we as a society had made progress in those societal attitudes,” Chung said. “His winning revealed to me a huge segment of the population that still believed in hate, and hated what I — and the people that I love — are.”

For about a month, the painting has been displayed without any complaints before it went viral after a Facebook post. This started a debate on freedom of expression and whether or not this painting should be protected under the university. Tom Case, UAA Chancellor, released a statement concerning the piece.

“We understand that some may not support this exhibit, but universities — including UAA — are a place for free exchange of ideas, diversity of thoughts and of opinions, and ideally, a place for conversation to occur around our differences and similarities. Fre​edom of expression is fundamental to our mission and we support our faculty and students in exploring their ideas through creativity, research and scholarship,” Case said.

Students are bittersweet about UAA’s decision to keep the painting up until the scheduled take down date, Thursday, April 20. It is questioned whether or not freedom of expression applies to professors.

“I do not believe this ‘painting’ falls under freedom of expression. Professors are not paid to make political statements, they are paid to teach. Freedom of expression applies to individuals, not universities that accept public funding,” Jarod Grice, mechanical engineering major, said.

While freedom of expression for students is important, some believe that outspoken political views, especially from a professor, is unprofessional.

“Personal politics do not belong in institutions of learning, period. It should be a place of acceptance and tolerance for people of all beliefs and political stance, respect given to all, not just the ones that those in power agree with,” Rachel Yoncher, psychology major, said. “It is their job to teach their students how to express what they feel and figure it out for themselves and give them the courage to do so, not to give themselves a platform to push their own.”

An issue with the university supporting the painting by keeping it up until the end of the exhibition is that some feel that this reflects UAA’s political beliefs.

“What’s most surprising to me is that UAA allowed this professor to display this painting, appearing as if UAA shares the same political views. It’s embarrassing to be attending a university that encourages staff to reveal their political affiliations to students,” Grice said. “Professor Chung can now be added to the growing list of incompetent professors employed by UAA, in a situation like this I can only say what I believe Donald Trump would say: ‘What a disgrace.’”

This is not the first time there has been controversial political artwork on campus. The “Everything” piece, along with other political pieces have been displayed and supported by the university.

“I would be really disappointed in UAA if they censored artwork, and this is not the only artwork on campus to focus Trump in a negative light, the same of Obama when he was in office. People have a political voice, and in true artist form you can see that expression all over the Fine Arts Building,” Kayla Anaya, painting major, said.

The discussion about the painting being displayed has brought up the topic of censorship. If UAA had decided to take down the piece, some question how that would impact future decisions on controversial work and conversations on campus.

“It does come down to the First Amendment and this should be a place where these kinds of conversations should happen, if I was asked to take it down, where do we draw the line? And what kind of a place would this be if the university could decide what’s appropriate and what’s not or what even a student can say or talk about?” Chung said.

College can be seen as a sacred place where discussions on controversial topics can take place in a safe manner. Expressing different viewpoints are encouraged for both professors and students to form their opinions in a respectful way.

“I won’t say if I personally agree or disagree with the paintings content, but it is the right of the professor and any student to display their beliefs in a way that doesn’t inflict physical harm on another, and when that happens, it is my right to engage in discussion about it, whether it be for or against the topic,” Clarissa Kyselov, anthropology major, said. “No one, including faculty on campus and the public off campus, should be allowed to take away that right or shut down an opposing viewpoint.”

UAA’s decision to keep the painting up has shown that professors and students freedom of expression is protected on campus.

“I hope what students take away from this is that no matter where they fall, college and UAA will be supportive, I know I can speak for this department that we will foster everyone’s point of views no matter what and I think that’s such an important part of this program,” Chung said. “If anything else, I hope that students just know that they should be brave if they believe in something that they can speak up about it here and they’ll be supported.”

Although the “Everything” painting was taken down on April 20, the discussion of the painting has gone national. Chung has been receiving nonstop emails and phone calls since his painting went viral. Through the death threats and name calling, Chung has also received great support for painting what he believed in. At UAA, academic freedom for professors and students is supported by the administration.

April 23, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy
Paul Stoklos joins in a group huddle with his gymnastics team. After 33 years of coaching, Stoklos hopes to continue to build healthy, winning teams. Photo credit: Sam Wasson/UAA Athletics

With an average of 15 athletes on the UAA gymnastics team and now 33 years of coaching, head coach Paul Stoklos has overseen the collegiate career of over 100 different gymnasts at UAA alone.

Stoklos is the only gymnastics coach that UAA has ever had, an impressive comparison that no other sport at UAA can boast.

Gymnastics has always been a part of Stoklos’ life. From out of high school until now, he has been coaching.

Stoklos originally started off as an assistant coach at the University of Arizona. First he began as a volunteer assistant coach, until moving his way up to paid assistant coach. The seven years he spent there prepared him for the opportunity to start the collegiate program in Alaska and build it from scratch.

“When I came to UAA for the job interview in 1984, I knew that this was where I wanted to stay… why still at UAA? I like to say I married UAA when I came here. This campus and athletes have been my family for 33 years,” Stoklos said.

In the time Stoklos has spent at UAA, he has made many tremendous accomplishments with the athletes he has coached.

Originally the program started out as Division II, but nearly 15 years ago it transitioned into a Division I program that made the largest difference in the progress of the gymnasts.

Since then, Stoklos’ athletes have been able to reach 31 program records. He’s been able to qualify 15 gymnasts for the NCAA West Regional all-around competition, as well as securing 10 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation event titles.

With many accomplishments, Stoklos has admitted that it isn’t as easy as it may seem.

“The most challenging part — two [actually], is keeping the student athletes from being distracted by all that is going on around them. The other is to get student athletes to want to come to Alaska when there used to be so much disinformation about this place we call home, he said.

Despite the difficulties Stoklos may run into, his gymnasts have preformed exceptionally well in academics. After becoming a part of the MPSF in 2003, the team has managed to average nearly six all-academic honors per season.

The fact that the gymnasts can excel in both athletics and academics is what makes coaching worth it for Stoklos.

“The most rewarding part of coaching is the see young athletes mature into adults as they purse a greater education while training and competing in a sport that we all love,” Stoklos said.

With the commencement of the 2017 season, Stoklos oversaw six of his athletes make it onto the all-academic list, meeting the yearly average.

After the 2016 and 2017 seasons ended, Stoklos saw the departure of many of his most talented athletes. With that, he hopes to see some positive changes in store for the 2018 season.

“Next season, I see an increased squad size. We needed more numbers to survive some of the loses of team members. I think the increased depth and strength will allow us to have a more successful season,” Stoklos said.

Regardless of size, Stoklos ultimately wants to have healthy athletes.

“We had two injuries that ended the season for two of our athletes. Like all coaches, I would like to see a season with no injures,” he said.

Stoklos only wants the best for his athletes, whether it’s seeing them excel at the sport he’s coaching, their academics or their health.

April 23, 2017 Jacob Holley-Kline

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The age of Looney Tunes is long gone and with it a class of slapstick comedy that defined a generation. Stephen Chow is one of the few filmmakers working to keep that very class alive. “The Mermaid” is an unapologetically goofy, sometimes visually clumsy, live action cartoon with a wavering sensibility. Sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes it’s incredibly dark, other times it’s just hard to watch.

So while Chow found broad appeal as an actor and director in his previous two features “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung-Fu Hustle,” “The Mermaid” is much more hit-or-miss. There are a number of cringey overlong gags that rely on even clumsier CGI to work, for example. They break Chow’s characteristic momentum often, but when a bit works, it really works. One thing the movie suffers from is ambition. Sometimes, Chow self-consciously avoids what makes his comedy great: ludicrous violence and misunderstandings.

Instead, we get a much darker, angrier Stephen Chow. “The Mermaid” has earnest moments of horror peppered throughout, often bloody and heartbreaking. It pits a wealthy businessman Liu Xuan against a colony of mermaids, including the octopus man, Octopus (Show Lo). Liu Xuan (Deng Chao) and his business partner Ruolan (Zhang Yuqi) has purchased the mermaid’s home, Green Gulf, to reclaim the sea around it. With a bloody history with human beings close behind them, the mermaids lure him to their house using Shan (Lin Yun). Some complications force Shan into Xuan’s life, and the two fall deep in love.

Despite its fantastical exterior, “The Mermaid” is, by far, the grittiest of Chow’s work. In an exemplary scene, the mermaids’ matriarch recounts their history of contact with man using only the water, crafting it into boats and airplanes. What she relays is brutal and bloody, but it’s presented in a beautiful way.

The beauty comes in spats, however, most poignant moments are underserved by some flat performances, especially Lin Yun in the lead role. It’s strange. Sometimes she’s on, but most of the time she’s not. Alongside Deng Chao, her performances feel monotonous. That being said, she does have the second best bit of physical comedy in the movie. It’s a wonderfully choreographed and painful dance sequence that recalls the famous knife gag of “Kung-Fu Hustle.”

The movie’s slapstick can sometimes feel sloppy or too willfully goofy, but you can’t help but smile watching it. It’s a feel-good movie, at least for a while. Then it shifts gears into something far more tragic. While that could be a good thing if it was utilized well, it’s not utilized well here.

It ends up feeling emotionally jarring to start the movie with archival footage of waste disposal and animal slaughter and expect viewers to laugh at the grilling and mutilation of Octopus later.

In fact, the movie seems to get less funny as it goes along. It doesn’t muster enough viewer goodwill to earn those abrupt shifts in tone. They just feel abrupt, and in a movie as wild as this, the last thing you want is to feel lost. Chow’s earlier efforts strike a balance between those qualities, but “The Mermaid” overreaches and ends up falling short. When the credits roll, it was admirable to watch it reach at all.

April 23, 2017 Alexis Abbott
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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

University of Alaska administration is currently working on implementing the third and final phase of Strategic Pathways.

The Strategic Pathways system involves the review, implementation and revisitation of methods to ensure that all UA programs support mission goals, are of high quality, are cost effective and enhance the student experience, according to University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen.

“Strategic Pathways is the process we are going through to understand how we can organize the University of Alaska to more effectively meet the state’s higher education needs while our budget is being cut,” Johnsen said.

Strategic Pathways focuses on adjusting and improving the University of Alaska through the statewide budget crisis.

Each of the three phases are analyzed by review teams, who present pros and cons of the process to the UA Summit Team. Johnsen takes the information presented and introduces it to the Board of Regents, who ultimately have the final say.

After each phase is approved by the Board of Regents and university administration, implementation teams establish goals, timelines and further details to best apply the strategies to the university.

Over 250 faculty, staff, students and community members have served on review teams and have come up with over 100 options in 22 administrative and academic areas.

Phase Three aims to achieve better coordination and leveraging in the social and natural sciences, arts and humanities and mine training academic programs. Administrative services such as finance, land and risk management and university facilities will also be of focus.

John Davies, vice-chair of the UA Board of Regents believes that the university will benefit from this long-term assessment of priorities, but only on the suggested 10-year timeline.

“This process can impact the decisions about how to allocate the near term budget cuts made by the legislature, but it is a longer term in focus and would better be implemented with more time to plan than is allowed by the necessity to deal with yearly budget cuts,” Davies said.

Sine Anahita, professor of sociology at UAF, says she has “faith” in Strategic Pathways.

“Strategic Pathways has identified the necessity to gather data about costs and benefits of changes, and drives us to make decisions based on data, not untested assumptions,” Anahita said. “Strategic Pathways has encouraged [members of the university] to be creative, both in designing the process and in determining the outcomes and the implementation.”

Anahita believes that the proposed methods in Strategic Pathways have great potential to improve the University of Alaska in the near future.

“I think that Phase One got off to a rocky start, where participants in the teams were mandated to secrecy. President Johnsen has indicated his willingness to improve the process at every step of the way, and Phase Two was much improved,” Anahita said.

Strategic Pathways provides potential benefits such as identification of areas for cost reduction and process improvement through collaboration, consolidation, outsourcing and automation. It also ensures a look at Statewide Administration.

Although Statewide has taken deeper cuts than the university overall, Johnsen believes there are always opportunities to improve support services to the campuses.

“[Strategic Pathways] is a process that brings people together to develop and suggest options for strengthening how we serve our students and our state during tough times,” Johnsen said.

Options involved in Phase Three were presented to the Summit Team on April 11, and will soon be reviewed by the Board of Regents. Feedback meetings will continue to take place through September, while President Johnsen says the implementation is expected to take place in the fall.

April 23, 2017 Brenda Craig
Salina Harwood sits at a stoplight during a ride through Anchorage. Harwood is eager to get back on the road with her motorcycle this summer. Photo credit: Cyrus Powers

The combination of sunny skies and clear roads is the perfect recipe for motorcyclists to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. Salina Harwood, journalism and public communication major with a concentration on strategic communications, is eager to get out and ride her bike after being cooped up all winter. This June will be Harwood’s fifth year riding motorcycles and she plans on many more years to come.

“I don’t know what there’s not to love about biking honestly, initially it was the adrenaline that I craved, but it turned into a lot more than that. Now it kind of evolved into a stress release,” Harwood said. “Just something about not being inside a car and being outside in the sun on two wheels that makes a really mundane drive seem like an adventure.”

Harwood enjoys the feeling of being exposed to her surroundings when she is on her bike. It has opened her perception on the environment, down to every detail.

“You notice so much more when you’re exposed to everything on the road, every dip and bump, people talking, music playing, smell from a restaurant or bakery and people next to you laughing in their cars,” Harwood said. “You’re closed off from all those things when you’re alone in your car and in your own world. It’s awesome taking it all in. It’s like seeing a town you know every inch of with new eyes or something.”

Riding motorcycles reminds Harwood to appreciate being alive and how precious life is.

“When I’m riding I’m constantly aware that this life is fleeting and that every decision you make could impact the outcome of your life,” Harwood said.

Although the ratio of men to women that ride motorcycles is higher, Harwood enjoys seeing other women challenging the standards.

“I do wish more women were out there riding, it’s always awesome to see ladies that are doing it for themselves, being independent and adventurous. Besides, why let the guys have all the fun?” Harwood said.

Along with the adrenaline rush and scenic routes, motorcycles require regular maintenance. After Harwood learned how to perform her own tune-ups, it became another part of her love for motorcycles.

“Every little tremor, knock, clicking sound or quirk should be something you can identify whether it’s a problem or not. Familiarizing yourself with your bike in that way I think is crucial,” Harwood said. “Plus, it feels amazing not needing a guy to fix my things for me, to know I’m just as capable at handling my bike as they are. Besides, I would just feel like a fraud if I bought a bike and had someone else put in all the work into it.”

Once spring hits, Harwood takes any chance she can to take her bike out for a ride. Because riding motorcycles has essentially became a part of who she is, Harwood doesn’t plan on quitting, but may lessen the amount of time riding.

“I think riding bikes can shape and change who you are as a person. When it becomes a formative part of your life I think that’s when it changes from a hobby to a lifestyle,” Harwood said. “I don’t have any intentions on stopping, I think maybe some day I might ride less but I don’t think I could ever quit completely.”

Harwood chose to specialize in strategic communications to further her abilities in her current job and to apply it to her future career, whatever it may be.

“My line of work involves a lot of promotions and advertising and I’m utilizing everything I’m learning about communications and media to support what I’m doing now with my job, I find it pretty useful,” Harwood said. “I don’t have a particular job in mind, but I know when I find it my degree will be applicable.”

With all the fun Harwood has with motorcycling, she wants to emphasize the importance of safety for both drivers and motorcycle riders.

“It seems like every year there are a few deaths and accidents in the spring before people wake up and realize its bike season, that goes for riders as well,” Harwood said. “We can get caught up in how much fun we’re having. We stop paying attention to things like how close we’re riding to the car in front of us. [I] just really would love to see less accidents on the road this summer. No accidents would be ideal.”

If you see a biker on the road with long blonde hair, it will most likely be Harwood. As summer approaches, watch for motorcycles and take precautions on the road.

April 23, 2017 Sarah Tangog
Earlier this month, the Student Union Art Gallery was renamed the Hugh McPeck Art Gallery. McPeck was the head of the sculpting department as an associate professor and served on the advisory board for the gallery for many years at UAA. Photo credit: Young Kim

UAA’s Student Union Art Gallery has been renamed to honor the late Hugh McPeck, an associate professor of sculpting from 1996 to 2014. The widely viewed gallery now displays pieces of a legacy as well as art.

“Hugh was a longstanding faculty in the art department, and he served on our advisory board for the gallery for many years,” Annie Route, UAA’s Student Life and Leadership Director, said. “It was very sad when he passed away.”

Last spring, Route brought up the idea of renaming the gallery to the Gallery Advisory Board, which consists of mostly faculty from the art department as well as several student managers of the gallery.

Though the proposal was given many positive reviews, it still took a while to get everything ready.

“Everyone was thrilled! You know, it’s hard when someone passes away, you go through the grief and the sadness, and I think we’re still feeling that. However, I think this is a way to celebrate,” Route said. “It took longer, because of summer, and the faculty was gone. Then it was the fall semester, and we had shows… we probably could’ve accomplished it in a much shorter time, but it’s been about a year.”

Route contacted many people, including the art department, UAA facilities and planning and even McPeck’s family.

“Nothing really happened until last spring,” Ann McPeck Gabler, McPeck’s wife, said. “I think Hugh would have been very humbled and very honored with the renaming of the gallery.”

The name of the gallery was officially changed during the Juried Student Art Show earlier this month.

“It’s always good to have a name that means something besides just a location,” Route said.

As an assistant professor of art, McPeck was the head of the sculpture department.

“In the window, the front window, there’s this raven made of iron. Hugh did that, and it’s one of his pieces,” Route said. Instead of displaying McPeck’s portrait in the gallery, Route decided the raven statue would be a better memorial plaque.

“He worked maybe 15 years with the students… and he loved it,” Gabler said. “He really expected excellence from his students, of himself and of his students, and it shows in the work of the gallery.”

The Hugh McPeck Gallery is open for any and all students. It now stands as a symbol of honor to a well-known professor who gave his time for his students, his family and friends and his art.

April 23, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy
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Madeleine Arbuckle performs her floor routine at the Alaska Airlines Center. Photo credit: Skip Hickey

With the countless hours of training, weekends spent traveling and evenings taken up with second practices, it might seem like a difficult task to balance classes while also balancing a sport. With the commencement of the 2017 gymnastics season, six Seawolves stood out for their impressive grades.

For the 2017 gymnastics season, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation executive director, Al Beaird, announced the final MPSF All-Academic Scholar-Athletes.

The list consisted of 35 gymnasts from six different schools including the Air Force Academy, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Seattle Pacific and UC Davis, in addition to UAA.

Not only did six UAA gymnasts make the list, junior Madeleine Arbuckle had the second highest GPA overall at 3.91, up from fourth highest in 2016 having a 3.92. Arbuckle only followed the top GPA athlete from Seattle Pacific by 0.01 grade points.

Arbuckle is in her junior year at UAA studying environmental sciences. She just completed her third season in gymnastics as an all-arounder.

“I chose this degree because I am interested in attending law school to practice environmental law. I figured having a background in environmental issues and policies would be helpful for me before diving into law school,” Arbuckle said.

With such a rigorous degree and courses, balancing life with school might seem like a daunting task, but Arbuckle has spent most of her life doing just that.

“I have always been used to balancing school and athletics. By grade three, I was training 20 hours a week, and in grade six, I had to start leaving school early to go to practice. At this point, I think it would be weird to not have a full schedule and constantly have to prioritize things,” Arbuckle said.

Arbuckle has found that pre-season is often the most time consuming with rigorous training schedules. Luckily, the gymnasts finish their competition season in mid-march to have the remainder of the semester to focus on school.

Joining Arbuckle on the All-Academic standing is junior Morgan Ross, who made it to the top 10, with the sixth highest overall GPA at 3.75.

On top of Division I gymnastics training, Ross is pursuing two separate degrees: a B.A. in Spanish and a B.S. in environmental science.

“I am an avid outdoor lover and I took AP Environmental Science in high school and loved it. I decided on Spanish because I grew up with Spanish speaking neighbors and I realized how valuable it is to know another language,” Ross said.

Ross explained that the team manages by having mandatory study hall sessions on the road. During the season, as well as off-season, the gymnastics team implemented a GPA rule to help everyone succeed.

“Our team rules state that if an individual does not receive a 3.3 GPA or higher each semester, they have to do nine hours of study hall per week,” Ross said.

Evidently, the rule seemed to help the team as a whole.

For a third consecutive time, senior Nicole Larkin achieved the honors with her GPA of 3.48. Larkin is studying to get her degree in biological sciences. Sophomore Kaylin Mancari made the list for her first year of eligibility for the academic team. Mancari is studying natural sciences and holds a GPA of 3.44.

The fifth gymnast to earn the MPSF title is junior Kendra Daniels. With her major in technology, Daniels holds a GPA of 3.42. Senior Brice Mizell rounds off the end of the list. Mizell is studying nursing and sociology and made the list with her GPA of 3.35.

To be eligible for this award, the student-athlete must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, as well as having sophomore standing, completed a full academic year prior to receiving the award and competed in 50 or more percent of the athletic season.

April 23, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews
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James Muller pursued political science after first being exposed to the subject in college. Muller has been to all 50 state capitol buildings and 150 national parks. Photo credit: Young Kim

In many ways, James Muller is similar to Richard Gilmore from the popular TV show Gilmore Girls. He has an Ivy League education from Harvard, his daughter is finishing her MFA at Yale and he has traveled all over the world. But, unlike Richard Gilmore, Muller has an established career in academia as a professor of political science at UAA. It wasn’t until college that Muller had his first exposure to a politics class, but he was the kind of student who had enough interest in the subject, that he was able to write a 70-page paper on the expansion of the powers of the presidency. In high school, he took so many AP courses that he started as a sophomore at Harvard and had to choose his major right away. Politics runs in his blood; his grandfather was a mayor, and Muller has made a career out of political science.

Despite his political experience, Muller found his home in Anchorage as a professor. As a child, he moved from coast to coast; he lived in California, then the suburbs of Washington D.C; he was in Tennessee for a short stint, then in Germany, Maryland, California again, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts for 11 years in college and graduate school. His daughter Helen was also educated in a coast-to-coast fashion when she was in sixth grade after her mother, Judith, completed cancer treatment.

“When [Judith] was sitting there doing chemotherapy, I think she was thinking about what she wanted to do after she didn’t have to go through her cancer treatment anymore…and she said she didn’t want to wait till she was retired to get a motor home and go around the country,” Muller said. “When you are sick with cancer you wonder how long you’ll have.”

Instead of waiting for retirement, all three Mullers, with their Welsh corgi, packed up, bought a motor home and decided to tour the country. In seven months’ time, they visited presidential houses, 150 national park sites and around 30 Civil War battlefields.

“What [Judith] wanted to do was sell our house, quit her job, she got me to take a sabbatical, and we bought a motor home. I’d never even been in one… and we went to all 50 states that year in 2004,” Muller said. “We went to all 50 state capitol buildings.”

Instead of being a professor of political science that year, Muller motor home-schooled Helen by taking her to Junior Ranger programs all over the nation. She became nationally renowned for visiting so many of the parks in one year, that Laura Bush the first lady, wrote her a letter congratulating her on her achievement.

“After the 100th Junior Ranger award she had won that year, the parks started making a fuss over her,” Muller said. “They would radio ahead to the next park and say this amazing kid is coming. She’s done a hundred Junior Ranger programs in one year! The rangers would say aren’t you the girl who’s on the national park website this morning? She learned that if you do something that’s really amazing, and a lot of work, and different from what most people do, people will notice.”

Before he toured the nation for the second time, he toured the world as a White House Fellow. During one two-week period, the fellows toured the Middle East; they went to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Israel and Egypt and did exotic activities like drive tanks and rappel out of helicopters.

“Saudi Arabia was a revelation too because it is such a strange country,” Muller said. “Very few people except those who have jobs there visit…We went to a camel race, and other kinds of things, we met all of these princes. I had to be a presiding fellow at a dinner where one of the dishes was the famous dish of the Nejd, which is the province where the capital Riyadh is. It didn’t taste very good, and I asked someone what it was and they said it was fermented camel’s yogurt with some kind of grain in it.”

After his tenure serving as a White House Fellow, he came back to Anchorage to teach political science. At the time, he said he was excited to come back to Anchorage and explore Alaska.

“After a whole year of writing speeches for the Secretary [of Education] and the Undersecretary, and not having my books, I felt as if I had used up what I knew, even though I learned a lot that year from seeing things up close, I’m sure,” Muller said. “I was really ready to come back and start reading again and be a professor, having students, being able to have discussions about political philosophy, and I was getting really interested in [Winston] Churchill.”

Muller has been teaching in Anchorage for 34 years and he is hoping to finish a book on Churchill’s writings next year. He’s also working on a book on P.G. Wodehouse.

April 23, 2017 Victoria Petersen
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Photo credit: Victoria Petersen

This Spanish dish is vibrant, filling and perfect for big groups. My friends and I cooked this dish to kick off backyard-barbecue season. Inherently, this dish is expensive with the use of saffron and fresh seafood, but if each friend provides a couple ingredients, together you can make an amazing meal. We set up a fire in the fire pit, placed a large cast-iron skillet over the fire and cooked the paella from there. This is a traditional recipe, feel free to change the proteins. We added chopped pancetta to our recipe, which gave it a boost of flavor.



1 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Paella and Protein

1 cup water

1 teaspoon saffron threads

3 (16-ounce) cans chicken broth

8 unpeeled jumbo shrimp (about 1/2 pound)

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 skinned, boned chicken thighs, cut in half

2 links Spanish chorizo sausage (about 6 1/2 ounces)

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 large garlic cloves, minced

3 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice

1 cup frozen green peas

8 mussels, scrubbed and debearded

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Lemon wedges (optional)


Prepare herb blend by combining all the herb ingredients. Set mixture aside.

Combine water, oil, saffron and broth in a large cast-iron skillet and bring to simmer, keep warm over medium heat.

Add chicken, sausage and shrimp. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onion and bell pepper, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, paprika and three garlic cloves. Let cook for about three minutes.

Add rice; cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in herb blend. Bring to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mussels to pan, nestling them into rice mixture.

Cook for minutes or until mussel shells open. Arrange shrimp, heads down, in rice mixture and cook five minutes or until shrimp are done. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

April 23, 2017 Alexis Abbott

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A local initiative called Protect our Privacy could limit public restroom use in Anchorage to the gender on birth certificates.

The proposed petition is to “protect the privacy” of citizens by requiring intimate facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms to be designated for and used only by people of the same sex.

The Protect our Privacy initiative committee sponsor, Kim Minnery, was not available for comment.

If passed, facilities owned by the municipality must follow the city-wide guidelines. The initiative also provides private employers and public accommodations the right to designate bathroom usage to those with the same sex.

A person’s sex refers to biological sex, as defined by the Anchorage Municipal Code.

The idea of the petition is to protect people’s physical privacy, which “includes the right not to be seen in various states of undress by members of the opposite sex,” as stated in the Protect our Privacy initiative.

The intention of the petition is to counter-act the Anchorage law that gave transgender people the right to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity. In October of 2015, the Anchorage Assembly passed a nondiscrimination ordinance to protect the transgender community. The proposed initiative would repeal part of this ordinance.

The Protect our Privacy initiative is a new and improved version of a petition that was introduced in January but was rejected for violating provision of local and state laws.

Anchorage Assembly member Forrest Dunbar sees the bathroom initiative as a step in the wrong direction.

“The nondiscrimination ordinance has been in effect for more than a year, and we’ve had exactly zero complaints or incidents. Transgender people are our friends and family — they’ve been dealing with these issues for much of their lives. Most of them discretely use stalls or just otherwise go about their lives. Let them be,” Dunbar said. “I don’t think any Alaskan wants to carry around their birth certificate and present it to business owners on demand.”

Dunbar stated that the passing of a repeal has the potential to be very harmful to the city of Anchorage.

Sarah Hyland, a former UAA student and transgender woman, believes that if the initiative passes, violence against transpeople in the Anchorage area will increase, and may even cause severe economic penalties.

“This issue has never been about bathrooms or privacy. It’s about legislating transpeople out of existence. Bathrooms have been a battleground for protection and privacy before…during segregation. These days the issue is always biased towards transwomen and not transmen because if you include them, many questions start to come up,” Hyland said. “If this passes the Alaskan community will have been duped into supporting hateful legislation over love and compassion by passing laws that are solutions to nonexistent problems.”

Hyland will continue to use restroom facilities for women.

Sarah Seifert, a resident of Anchorage and Fairbanks, thinks that limiting restroom usage will have a detrimental impact on all Alaskans.

“Alaska has always both embodied and treasured certain ideals — freedom, respect, beauty, nature, bravery, daring — the reality of what a law like this will entail and wreak on not only the most vulnerable and maligned members of our communities but also on the very people proponents of this initiative claim to seek to ‘protect’ flies in the face of every single thing we hold dear. But more than that, it puts a target on the back of the skull of every single one of us,” Seifert said. “This is not merely an issue of transgender rights, which is an important enough matter in its own right, this is about who we want to be — as Alaskans, as Americans, as neighbors, as friends, as family and, above all, as human beings.”

The Protect our Privacy initiative was filed in March, and if it garners enough signatures, it may appear on the Anchorage ballot in April 2018.

April 18, 2017 Max Jungreis



On Thursday, the Hilcorp Corporation ended a natural gas leak in Cook Inlet that has spewed methane into the surrounding waters for months after dive crews installed a clamp marine pipeline. The fix required several dives to the seafloor as workers repaired a damaged pipeline 80 feet deep. Thick sea ice prevented crews from fixing the 52-year-old installation for two months. The leak has generated controversy since it began, with environmental groups voicing concern for local wildlife and accusing Hilcorp of being unable to manage its own properties.


The Alabama state Senate has passed a bill that would grant a local church the ability to appoint its own police force. Briarwood Presbyterian Church is located at the fringes of Birmingham, located between Jefferson and Shelby counties. The church is massive, with more than 4,000 members and 40 ministries, including programs for preschool and K-12 education. The church released a statement stating, “After the shooting at Sandy Hook and in the wake of similar assaults at churches and schools, Briarwood recognized the need to provide qualified first responders to coordinate with local law enforcement who so heroically and effectively serve their communities.” Those in favor of the measure say that a police force is necessary in increasingly dangerous times. Those against it say the move is both gratuitous to religious forces and unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union objected, issuing a memo saying that the bill will “unnecessarily carve out special programs for religious organizations and inextricably intertwine state authority and power with church operations.” Critics also say that violates the First Amendment, which says that Congress cannot make any law “respecting an establishment of religion.


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un celebrated his grandfather’s birthday this year, not with the usual parade, but with a display of far-ranging firepower. A massive military procession showed off the latest North Korean military equipment, including what analysts say were three different types of intercontinental missiles. Kim watched from a balcony as the missiles made their way through Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, accompanied by dozens of tanks and thousands of goose-stepping soldiers. It was the 105th birthday of Kim Il-sung, Kim’s grandfather and near-mythic founder of North Korea. World powers like China and the United States were concerned that Kim would ring in the anniversary with a nuclear bomb test or the firing of an intercontinental missile. The United States sent a naval strike group to the coast of the Korean Peninsula in a show of force. The move has led to heightened tensions between the two countries. Cho-ryong Hae, believed to be second most powerful North Korean official, said “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war” and “We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks.”

April 18, 2017 Jacob Holley-Kline


You’d think a movie with “Stranger” in its title might have something new to offer. This isn’t the case in “The Stranger.” Guillermo Amoeda’s amateurish bore of a horror movie plods on and on to a conclusion that’s as gory as it is hard to care about. The sensibility is try-hard, the performances forced, and the premise contrived. As I type this, I am rewatching it just to see if anything about it was decent. Not good, just decent. And it turns out, Amoeda, as a director, has potential.

In a truly uninspired turn, “The Stranger” follows Martin (Cristobal Tapia Montt) who’s returned to an unnamed town in rural America. He’s slow to reveal his motives, and it’s hard to know if watching to find them out is even worth it. After he’s stabbed by Caleb (Ariel Levy), the son of the local police officer Lieutenant De Luca (Luis Gnecco), a troubled crack-addicted kid (Nicolas Duran) takes him in and nurses him back to health. After that, a lot of things happen, events engineered for maximum cruelty, and “The Stranger” loses all purpose.

Let’s start with the basics: the storytelling is a nightmare. There are at least three major narrative reveals that happen in flashbacks. Most of them involve Martin’s relationship to other, equally lifeless characters. Amoeda plays these moments like grand revelations when they’re anything but. How can you be surprised by characters you don’t care about? From the writing to the performances, nothing makes the hour and a half less of a brutal slog.

What makes it even worse is that Amoeda has some inspired moments. To properly capture what watching “The Stranger” is like, it’s best to describe how watching it feels. There are shots in here that are almost beautiful, Peter pedaling across the street at sunset, for example, that make you feel like it will get better. It inspires hope in a way few horror movies do. And at every turn, it rips that hope to shreds.

The bulk of that disappointment lies in the performances. Montt, in the lead role, Levy, Gnecco and Duran in the supporting ones, to be fair thought, they don’t have much to work with. The script is a thin excuse for a movie. Any character-building is mostly accidental and serves to bind each needless moment of violence to the next. And even in those moments, there are no stakes whatsoever. Amoeda is well-versed in this kind of horror, having written Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno, yet he still falls short.

If you have “The Stranger” on your must-watch list, X it out right now. It’s a preposterously boring, slipshod nightmare barely held together by bloodless acting and a sloppy script. Amoeda has potential as a director and provocateur, but he ultimately falls short on both counts. Sitting through it is like swimming through molasses except there’s no chance of drowning. Only finishing a sad excuse for a horror flick and wondering where all that time went.