UA Statewide Briefs

UAF plans new institute

FAIRBANKS – UAF announced the creation of the Susan Butcher Institute, dedicated to cultivating public service and leadership skills for Alaska’s residents.

The institute will provide Alaskans with opportunities to learn and grow, both personally and professionally, through a wide variety of workshops and seminars. Butcher’s husband, David Monson, will serve as the institute’s first executive director. Monson will develop a range of programs intended to inspire people, especially youth and emerging leaders, to improve their own communities through public service, volunteering and new challenges. The institute expects to offer the programs on a regular basis starting in fall 2010.

Butcher was a longtime Alaskan and accomplished outdoorswoman who once summited Mount McKinley by dog team with Iditarod co-founder Joe Redington Sr. She died of acute myelogenous leukemia in 2006.

“This institute will, first and foremost, honor where we live. It is such a gift to live in this beautiful state,” Monson said. “It is our hope that the institute will instill a desire to give back to our communities and help Alaskans thrive for generations. That sense of public service transcends Alaska – it’s applicable everywhere. I hope people from all walks of life and from all over the world will attend and be enriched by this institute.”

UA President Mark Hamilton said it’s fitting for the university to have an institute named after Butcher.

“She is a symbol of inspiration for many of us, especially those struggling toward a goal, whether it be athletic, personal, professional or spiritual,” he said. “She truly loved Alaska, the wilderness here, her family and her dogs. She once said she didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’ In a very real way, this institute means she hasn’t, despite her passing.”

Creating the institute is one of the last official acts of UAF Chancellor Steve Jones, who is leaving to serve as president at Urbana University in Ohio.

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“I couldn’t be more pleased that David Monson agreed to be the institute’s founding director,” Jones said. “This institute will serve as a legacy for much of what Susan believed in, for many years to come.”

Born and raised in South Dakota, Monson came to Alaska in 1977 and met Butcher shortly after that. They married in 1985 and together competed successfully in nearly every major sled dog race in the world. Monson is a former champion of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Canada.

Monson and his two daughters, Tekla and Chisana, operate Trail Breaker Kennel in Fairbanks, where they share their Alaska lifestyle with visitors from around the world.

KUAC TV brings home Emmy

FAIRBANKS – KUAC TV producers added to their gold cache over the weekend, bringing home television’s top honors for the third consecutive year.

Producers Claudia Clark and Deb Lawton and writer/editor Aaron Elterman won an Emmy Award for their KUAC TV production of “AlaskaOne Image Spots,” where viewers share their commitment to public television. The trio received the award at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter award ceremony held June 7 in Seattle. Clark attended the event.

“Winning three years in a row is an honor and a tribute to the talent found at KUAC,” said Clark. “I’m so proud of our television production team and the level of programming they unfailingly produce.”

KUAC TV, part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, received three Emmy nominations this year. In addition to “AlaskaOne Image Spots,” Emmy-award winner Michael Letzring was nominated for his production and editing work on the St. Elias Tectonics and Erosion Project, also known as STEEP, created for the UAF Geophysical Institute. KUAC’s third Emmy nomination went to editor Aaron Elterman, Lawton and cameraman Michael Letzring for a story about the University of Alaska International Polar Year.

This is the fourth consecutive year KUAC has earned Emmy-award nominations. Elterman, now a three-time Emmy-award winner, was honored last year in the individual achievement category. Letzring and Lawton were each honored last year with an Emmy for the KUAC TV production “The 49th Star,” which tells the story of Alaska’s struggle for statehood. Elterman and Letzring brought home an Emmy in 2006 for a promotional spot for “The 49th Star.” KUAC was also nominated in 2006 for its travel series, “Anywhere, Alaska,” and in 2005 for its Alaska health series, “Vital Signs.”

The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences serves television professionals in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Montana. The complete list of Emmy recipients and other academy news and information is available from the academy’s website, at