2011 Alumni Achievement awards

The Alumni Achievement Awards were created in 1991 to recognize outstanding contributions made by graduates and former students of UAF. The areas of recognition include community support, university support, and business and professional excellence. A maximum of five awards in each category can be presented annually. Nominations may be made by alumni, faculty, staff and by the general public. The nomination letter should include information to support the nomination.

Business and Professional Excellence

Garry Hutchison

Garry Hutchison, '75

Garry Hutchison graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks cum laude in accounting in 1975. While at the university, Garry received the Hagelbarger Outstanding Accounting Student Award. His success continued in his professional career. He is president and senior shareholder of Kohler, Schmitt & Hutchison, Certified Public Accountants. Garry is also part of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and was recognized by the Alaska Society of CPAs with the Public Service Award in 1994.

Garry has over 35 years of experience providing professional accounting services that range from financial accounting and auditing, tax preparation and planning to systems consulting. During his career, Garry provided services to both private and public entities across Alaska -- he traveled extensively from Juneau to Barrow and Northway to Nome.

He has been involved in the Fairbanks community since 1986, beginning with the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, where he served on the board for a number of years and chaired various committees. Garry is currently part of finance and audit committees at the University of Alaska Foundation and the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. He has also served two terms as an elected member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough -- once in the position of presiding officer and then as chair of finance and audit committees. His other community involvement includes youth sports and the Rotary Club of Fairbanks.

Gary and his wife, Diane (Kennedy) Hutchison, are life-long Alaskans and parents of three grown children.

Jo Michalski

Jo Michalski, '76

Jo Michalski came to Alaska in 1971 and received her master of education from UAF in 1976. Her professional career began as the curriculum development coordinator for the Alaska Department of Education in Juneau. Following a move to Anchorage, she began her long history of successful retail businesses. Jo is the owner of two fashionable boutiques -- Classic Woman and Portfolio. She often credits her success in business to her competent and dedicated employees.

In addition to her involvement in the retail industry, Jo is also a leader in many community organizations. Her extensive list of awards and achievements include the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, the YWCA National Women Entrepreneur Award, the Philanthropy Small Business Award and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Gold Pan Award for Outstanding Community Service.

Jo donates countless hours to public service and over the years has served on many non-profit boards including Campfire Boys and Girls, KAKM/KSKA Public Radio and Television, Alaska Junior Theatre, Out North, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Anchorage YWCA, The Alaska Community Foundation and the League of Women Voters. She has chaired the boards of the YWCA, The Alaska Community Foundation and the University of Alaska College of Fellows. She currently serves as a trustee for the University of Alaska Foundation Board and also serves on the Homer Pratt Museum Capital Campaign Committee and on the Bunnell Arts Center Board of Directors in Homer.

Jo Michalski is certainly one of the university’s real success stories -- she has used her education and involvements to not only further the development of her own businesses, but also to better the university, Anchorage and Alaska. She is a credit to the UAF Alumni Association.

Community Support

Milo Griffin

Milo Griffin, '70

Milo Griffin graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in education, specializing in secondary education. From an athletic superstar at UAF, Milo transformed into a professional coach, serving Fairbanks high schools for more than 30 years.

Milo Griffin graduated from UAF with an all-time leading score of 1,682 points -- a record not broken until 2005, by Brad Oleson. For his accomplishments in basketball, Milo was inducted into the UAF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. His No. 44 jersey is the only Nanook player jersey number retired by the school.

It is in his professional career that Milo demonstrated dedication to the Fairbanks community -- he helped shape Alaska students into athletes and mature individuals. Milo continues to coach basketball and tennis at Lathrop High School and track at West Valley High School. Fairbanks North Star Borough School District activities coordinator Conrad Gonzales writes about Milo: "I have seen him coach athletes from other schools for the love of sports and students. He is involved in the MLK Basketball Tournament to raise funds for scholarships. Milo has best for students on his mind, not what is best for Milo."

Milo Griffin is an excellent example of an athlete using his skill to benefit youth. The university is proud to have him as one of its graduates.

Trudy Heffernan

Trudy Heffernan, '87

Trudy Heffernan graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a master’s degree in biology in 1987.

After graduating, she worked for U.S. Soil Services, the Alaska Biological Research and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

Trudy’s marriage to Will Putnam, Tanana Chiefs Conference forester, her singing and songwriting prowess and the birth of her two children, Liam and Molly shifted Trudy’s focus towards her family and music.

Trudy’s involvement with music continued and it became her outlet to serve the Fairbanks community. Together with friend, Martha "Mace" Mason, Trudy started a business called "Acoustic Adventures" specializing in attracting high quality acoustic acts to Fairbanks. For the past eleven years, "Acoustic Adventures" brought to town numerous fine concerts featuring the very best in bluegrass, folk, singer/songwriter, blues, celtic, country and more. The proceeds from some of these events were directed to support Fairbanks Folk Fest, a non-profit organization that strives to preserve traditional and contemporary folk music.

Outside of her business, Trudy has also been engaged with other musical projects, to include the Anderson Bluegrass Festival and KUAC’s "Banjo Signal", a bi-weekly public radio show running since 1990. Trudy also finds enjoyment in joining her husband for various music configurations.

University Support

Laura Bender

Laura Bender, '80, '82

Laura Bender graduated with an associate of arts degree in early childhood development in 1980 from the Tanana Valley Campus and from UAF with a bachelor of education degree in early childhood education in 1982. The same year, Laura received an Alaska Type A teaching certificate.

Laura left Alaska in 1984 to pursue a teaching career in Fairfax Va., but the lure of Alaska was too strong so she returned in 1985. In 1986, Laura reconnected to her alma mater when she was hired to provide administrative support to the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. In 1996 she was promoted to coordinator and in 2002 she became the school's manager. Her duties included assisting the dean, associate dean and program heads in all phases of academic programs. She provided oversight of SFOS academic programs, both graduate and undergraduate. Laura was also responsible for the general coordination and management of day-to-day administrative functions, including maintaining student-related academic information for all SFOS students in Fairbanks, Juneau and Kodiak.

In 2004, building upon her experience working with graduate students, Laura was hired as director of the Graduate School and Interdisciplinary Programs. Laura provides leadership, management and administrative oversight of graduate school program operations, recruitment, advertising and supervision of graduate school staff. She also ensures that the administration of all graduate systems and services meets the needs of students, academic departments and the goals of the university. In addition, she administers undergraduate interdisciplinary and general studies degrees. As a dedicated staff member, Laura has been part of numerous university committees, including Staff Council.

Laura and her husband Gary Bender are parents of two daughters.

Tony Gasbarro

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