Distinguished Alumnus Award

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.


2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner

Neal Fried ’78

Neal Fried

Neal Fried took the long way to a career in economics in Alaska. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Vienna, Austria. He is one of six boys and moved with his family overseas when his father took a job with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 1960. The Fried boys attended the American International School and became bilingual in German and English.

Fried moved to Alaska to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he earned degrees in both economics and history. Today, Fried is the supervisor of the Anchorage office of the Alaska Department of Labor. He has worked as an economist in Alaska for more than 40 years, an exciting time to observe the field as the state’s economy changed dramatically with the discovery of oil and other innovations.

Fried’s role has been as a producer of objective economic and demographic measures and analysis. He has not been a political advocate or policymaker.

“His signature bow ties and ability to relate to Alaskans across the economic and cultural spectrums set Neal apart,” wrote Robert Coghill Jr., a UAF classmate and lifelong Alaskan, in nominating Fried. “In addition to generating succinct and readable reports of the state, Neal has addressed chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, Alaska Native organizations and a host of other organizations.”

Some of the topics Fried has analyzed include the cost of living in the state; annual forecasts for Anchorage, Fairbanks and Alaska’s economy; construction; income and wage trends; the military; the health care industry; transportation; oil industry issues; labor needs; rural economic trends; the economic impact of the 1989 Prince William Sound oil spill; and Alaska's largest employers.

Fried met his wife Mary Hilcoske ’76 (B.A.) at UAF. They were married in 1982 in Anchorage and have two grown children, Ruby and Evan.