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.
2013 Distinguished Alumnus award winner
Ramona "Gail" Phillips, '67
Ramona "Gail" Phillips is a lifelong Alaskan, the oldest of seven daughters, born in Juneau to Lois and Wallace "Mac" McIver and raised in Nome, Alaska. After graduating from Nome High School in 1962, Gail attended the University of Alaska at Fairbanks where she met Walter Phillips and married him in Nome in a double wedding ceremony with her sister Barby and husband Stan, officiated by her grandfather, Rev. Ludwig Ost, a missionary from Sweden. Gail graduated from UA at Fairbanks with a bachelor’s degree in business education in 1967.
Gail Phillips has been a statewide leader in Alaska for many years; she was a teacher, a business owner and civic leader. Gail served on the Homer City Council from 1981 to 1984; on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly from 1986 to 1988 and was the chair of the Alaska State Municipal League. In 1990 Gail was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives where she served five terms. During her tenure, she served on nearly every committee, including the finance, fisheries, and community and regional affairs committees. She was a member of the executive committee of the Council of State Governments West, co-chair of the Western States Coalition, National Council of State Governments, American Legislative Exchange Council and the Alaska Energy Council. Gail was selected by her peers as the majority leader in 1993-1994 and was awarded the highest position in the Alaska House of Representatives in 1995-96 and 1997-98, becoming the Speaker of the House of Representatives, only the second female Speaker of the House in Alaska’s history. In 2000 Gail chose not to run for the Legislature again, but in 2001 she ran for lieutenant governor, although unsuccessfully.
In 2003 Gail became a special assistant to Gov. Frank Murkowski and later that year she became executive director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. In 2006 she became the Industry liaison for the Department of Labor’s business partnership program.
Gail’s community involvement includes the Republican Party of Alaska; Commonwealth North; Institute of the North board; Anchorage Airport community stakeholder committee; Resources Development Council of Alaska; BP Community Advisory board; UAF Alumni Association board, serving as president for three consecutive terms; Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum board; Truth About Pebble Committee, as both an executive board member and president; and the Make Alaska Competitive board.
Gail was awarded the Canadian Consul’s Smashed Brick Award and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award.
Gail is married to Walter and has two children, Robin and Kimberly, and two grandchildren, Scott and Jace. It is with great pleasure that the UAF Alumni Association presents the 2013 Distinguished Alumna award to The Honorable Speaker Ramona "Gail" Phillips.