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. Alumnus/alumna are selected for the award based on specific meritorious service on behalf of the quality and advancement of UAF; distinguished accomplishments in business and professional life; and/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.

2015 Distinguished Alumnus award winner

Sherry Simpson ’86, ’95

Sherry Simpson is a prize-winning author of several books, many essays and countless articles, most of which discuss Alaska, its people and its environment. She recently published her masterpiece, “Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska,” on which she says she worked “for a very long time” and as a result “might take up writing haikus for awhile.”

“Dominion of Bears” won the 2015 John Burroughs Medal, putting her in the company of John McPhee, Peter Matthiessen, Aldo Leopold, Barry Lopez, Richard Nelson and many other internationally known natural history writers.

Sherry grew up in Juneau after her family moved there when she was 7 years old. At UAF, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in creative writing.

Sherry worked for many years as an editor, staff reporter and freelance writer for newspapers and other media outlets in Alaska. She has published two essay collections, “The Accidental Explorer: Wayfinding in Alaska” and “The Way Winter Comes,” the winner of the inaugural Chinook Literary Prize. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies.

Sherry is a professor of creative writing in the master’s program at UAA and a faculty mentor in the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. She and her husband, Scott Kiefer, live in Mimbres, New Mexico.

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