2017 William R. Cashen Service award
Jo Ryman Scott
This award is designed to recognize and perpetuate William R. Cashen’s example of service to the university and inspire all those associated with UAF. Awardees are selected on the basis of admirable service. It is the only alumni association award that may go to people who are not alumni.
The 2017 honoree, Jo Ryman Scott, was born in rural South Dakota just before the stock market crash of October 1929. During the Depression that followed, Jo worked hard with her family on the farm. She loved animals and fondly remembers her early teachers who encouraged a love of literature and music. Graduating from Warner High School in 1947, Jo earned a teaching certificate and taught in South Dakota for three years. She loved teaching, but wanted to go to college. She was the first woman from her high school to finish college, earning a bachelor’s degree in education from San Jose State in 1953. After meeting someone from Alaska, she decided to apply for teaching positions in several Alaskan cities. She was offered contracts by all four schools she applied to, but took a job in Fairbanks because it was close to the University of Alaska.
Soon after moving to Fairbanks in 1953, Jo met her future husband, Dick. The couple married in February 1954 and began building their home at three-mile College Road. Together they had three children — Julie, Bryan and Shirley. Over the years that followed, Jo enjoyed a rewarding career teaching in Fairbanks public schools, retiringn as an English teacher at Lathrop High School. She started a musical nursery school in 1962 which she ran for eight years. In addition to that, she started a summer arts day camp in 1976, sharing the family's pool, sauna, grounds and horses with the youth of Fairbanks.
With cooperation from the UAF Music Department, Jo started in 1980 what later became the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. The event was a success and UAF accepted Jo’s proposal to expand the event into a two-week festival that following year. Since then, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival has grown exponentially. Now known around the world, the event has continued for 30 years, with Jo retiring in 2009.