Distinguished Alumnus Award Archives

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the association's most prestigious award. It was first awarded in 1962 and continues to annually recognize living graduates of UAF. Alumni are selected for the award based on meritorious service on behalf of UAF, distinguished accomplishments in business and professional life, or distinguished human service in community affairs.

All alumni are encouraged to nominate individuals for the Distinguished Alumnus Award. There must be three letters of support for the nomination, all from UAF graduates or former students. The nomination should include information on the candidate's life achievements.

2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award


2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner

Eric Toskey `86, `90

Eric Toskey

Eric’s story shows that a UAF degree can take you anywhere. Eric is a 1982 graduate of Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, and earned his bachelor of science in petroleum engineering in 1986 and his master’s degree in petroleum engineering in 1990. During his 20 years with Schlumberger, Eric visited or lived in 40 different countries around the globe, including in the former USSR.

In 2009, Eric and his family decided to come back to the states where he went to work at Letton Hall Group in Houston, an engineering firm that specializes in oil and gas flow. At Letton Hall Group there are at least three UAF alumni that Eric has hired. In addition to running the company, Eric continues to focus on technical innovation.

Eric has contributed much to the global oil and gas industry having been involved in logging and testing oil and gas wells, production systems research, running jack-up rig operations offshore, and connecting field operations to global information databases. He’s led production systems research and development, and multiphase flow measurement.

Dr. Shirish Patil, a professor of petroleum engineering, wrote in his nomination letter: “Eric Toskey has made outstanding contributions to the oil and gas industry through research and <development, administration, and support of University of Alaska Fairbanks students. In all these, he has exhibited tremendous originality, creativity, dedication and leadership. In my view, he represents the best characteristics of a true leader.

2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award

2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner

Virginia Farmier `84

The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna award is based on specific meritorious service on behalf of UAF, distinguished accomplishments in business and professional life, or distinguished human service in community affairs. Our 2017 Distinguished Alumna, Virginia Farmier, fits all these categories and more.

Virginia moved to Fairbanks from Alabama in May 1972. She attended Lathrop High School and went to work for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in her junior year.   She earned her Bachelor’s Degree at UAF in Business Administration in 1984, with a focus on accounting. After graduating, Virginia moved into the position of controller at the News-Miner and shortly after started serving on the board of directors as treasurer of the corporation. She worked for C. W. "Bill" Snedden, the newspaper’s publisher, from November 1974 until he passed away in July 1989. She continued working with his wife, Helen Snedden, for more than 20 years after that. While working with Helen, Virginia was able to create an endowed chair of journalism at UAF in 2003 in memory of Bill. Since then, UAF has been able to bring high-caliber journalists to the university each year, providing many students with the opportunity to learn the craft of journalism.

When Helen passed away in May 2012, her estate created two foundations: the Helen E. Snedden Foundation and the Snedden Family Foundation.  The Helen E. Snedden Foundation purchased the News-Miner in January 2016, Serving as the sole trustee and executive director of the two foundations, Virginia facilitated the purchase of the newspaper, among many other projects around the community. She currently serves as a committee member of the Snedden Chair of Journalism at UAF and is involved in many other community organizations in Fairbanks.

With all of her community involvement, Virginia still manages to run her own accounting practice, True North Business Services. She has a son, Chris Farmier, and is the proud grandma to  Andrew and Mercedes. She is a Lifetime member of the Alumni Association. While Virginia is the type of alum who seems to attend everything and be everywhere, she’s never been one to seek the center of attention or demand or expect recognition. The Alumni Association is honored to present the 2017 Distinguished Alumna award to Virginia Farmier.  

2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award

Chantal R. Walsh `85

Since earning her bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from UAF in 1985, Chantal Walsh has worked to resolve critical technical challenges to improve recovery of Alaska’s oil and gas. During a span of more than 30 years, she has held positions with BP, Arco, Chevron and Petrotechnical Resources Alaska.

Chantal also has remained a steadfast advocate for UAF and engineering education. In all her jobs, Chantal has mentored young engineers and interns. When Arco honored Chantal with its Outstanding Technical Achievement Award in 1999, she contributed part of the award to UAF. She serves as vice chair of the College of Engineering and Mines’ advisory council and was a member of the Department of Petroleum Engineering’s advisory board. She has championed completion of the new UAF engineering building with regents, legislators and oil and gas industry leaders.

Born in Cordova, Chantal spent several years in her mother’s native France before moving to Anchorage with her parents, three brothers and two sisters. Her father, Tom Tunley, also graduated from UAF’s engineering program before receiving a master’s degree in mining engineering from Stanford University.

Chantal lives in Anchorage with her husband, Tom, and her three children, Sophie, Alexander and Marshall.

Chantal’s volunteer activities are extensive. She has served as a judge for the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ prestigious Petrobowl competition for students representing universities around the world. She has led sessions and committees at several SPE regional meetings. Chantal commits her time, talents and financial resources to the United Way of Anchorage, Habitat for Humanity, her local PTA (even though her children are now grown) and a variety of other local nonprofits.

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