Alumni Achievement awards
The Alumni Achievement Awards were created in 1991 to recognize outstanding contributions made by graduates and former students of UAF. The areas of recognition include community support, university support, and business and professional excellence. A maximum of five awards in each category can be presented annually. Nominations may be made by alumni, faculty, staff and by the general public. The nomination letter should include information to support the nomination.
The 2015 Annual Awards were presented at the annual awards Rendezvous Dinner on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015.
2015 Alumni Achievement award winners
Business and Professional Excellence
Vicki S. McConnell ’95
Vicki McConnell was named executive director of the Geological Society of America in March. With 27,000 members, GSA is one of the world’s premier geoscience organizations.
Vicki started her career in geology and volcanology soon after earning a bachelor’s degree in geology from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado, in 1983. She began work as an assistant at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1985. One of her projects at Sandia involved magma energy research at Novarupta Volcano in Alaska.
In 1991, she left Sandia to pursue a doctoral degree in geology at UAF, studying under John Eichelberger. After graduation, she worked with the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.
In 1999, Vicki became a field geologist with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. She was named Oregon’s state geologist in 2005.
The Geological Society of America is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. Vicki lives in nearby Lafayette, where she enjoys hiking, biking and gardening with her friends and family.
Rockne Wilson ’69 and Sandra Wilson ’72
Rocky and Sandy Wilson are partners in Wilson & Wilson CPAs, a Fairbanks accounting firm. Rocky founded the firm in 1980. It became Wilson & Wilson CPAs in 1991 after Sandy earned her CPA and joined as a partner.
Rocky and Sandy met while attending UAF.
Rocky, a third-generation Alaskan, was born in Palmer but grew up in Fairbanks and Chena Hot Springs, where he learned to run sled dogs, trap, hunt and live a rural lifestyle. His early schooling came through correspondence courses taught by his mother in the hot springs lodge’s kitchen.
Rocky graduated from Lathrop High School in Fairbanks as a boarding student and then majored in business management at UAF. After graduating with a U.S. Army commission as second lieutenant and receiving training at the infantry officer basic course in Georgia, he completed a tour of duty in Vietnam as a military intelligence officer and earned several service medals.
Sandy, née Kennedy, was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Fairbanks. At UAF, she majored in art and minored in education. After graduation, she continued her studies in accounting and computer science.
Sandy loves crochet, gardening, crafts, family, reading, traveling, and collecting Native artwork from the gifted and talented people in the rural communities she visits.
Rocky and Sandy have two children and two granddaughters.
Toni Mallott ’72
Toni Mallott taught for more than 20 years in Alaska’s public education system while volunteering with numerous organizations.
Toni grew up in the village of Rampart along the Yukon River, where she lived a traditional Athabascan lifestyle. Like many Alaska Native students, she was sent to boarding school in Wrangell. After graduating from high school in Citrus Heights, California, she attended UAF and received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She earned a master’s degree in education from UA Southeast.
Toni serves on the board of Baan O Yeel Kon, the Alaska Native village corporation established by Rampart residents. As a board member, she serves as chairperson of a post-secondary education scholarship committee for shareholders. She served on Juneau’s public radio station board and on the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. She was chairperson of the Juneau School District’s Indian studies program in the early 1980s.
Toni and her husband Byron, Alaska’s lieutenant governor, have five children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Now retired, Toni remains active in community service projects in Juneau. She boats, hikes, travels and creates Tlingit regalia for her grandchildren to wear while dancing.
Libby Eddy ’92
Libby Eddy retired as registrar and director of admissions in May 2015 after 28 years with UAF.
Libby was born in Texas and grew up “everywhere” as her dad moved with U.S. Air Force assignments. She came to Alaska in 1977 when her new husband, Ray, was stationed at Fort Wainwright.
Libby started working for the Tanana Valley Community College in 1978. The college offices were in Constitution Hall, where the alumni office is currently located. She was accepted into a short-term program that trained high school graduates for office work.
The short-term position became permanent, and she slowly chipped away at her degree requirements while working and raising her children — Jason, Sarah and Adam.
Over the years, Libby supervised the admissions processing staff as well as the records department. She became the registrar and director of admissions in 2012. She considers herself fortunate to have seen the institution from inside both the classroom and the office.
Libby and Ray plan to spend winters with family in the Lower 48 and summers with friends and family in Fairbanks. She’ll be supporting UAF and the Nanooks at every opportunity.
Ann Ringstad ’06
Ann Ringstad has been one of the university’s most effective advocates in recent decades.
A lifelong Alaskan, Ann spent more than 10 years as a state legislative aide, learning the University of Alaska budget in the process. She became the university’s state relations director in 1997 and worked as assistant to President Mark Hamilton. In 2004, she was hired as UAF’s legislative liaison and associate vice chancellor for university relations. She has been the development officer for the UAF College of Engineering and Mines since 2012.
Ann worked off and on for 30 years to secure her bachelor’s degree in business and history from UAF. Two years later, she received her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington.
Ann has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Alaska Center for Children and Adults and Mt. McKinley Bank. She co-chaired the Tanana Valley United Way campaign while also leading the UAF campaign. While on the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce board, she earned the organization’s Shining Star Award for starting a high school leadership program.
Ann and her husband, John, live in Fairbanks. They have three children and three grandchildren.
As her career at the university closes, Ann is looking forward to new opportunities to put her skills to good use.