Previous spotlight: Jim Sampson

Sampson named 2008 distinguished alumnus

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Alumni Association honored former Alaska Commissioner of Labor and two-term Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Sampson with the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Sampson received the award at a Sept. 26 luncheon at the Princess Riverside Lodge. The event was part of the alumni association's annual reunion, held Sept. 25 - 27.

Sampson came to Alaska in 1952. He is the oldest of eight children and the first in his family to attend college. He graduated from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks in 1973 with an associate degree in police administration. Sampson held a variety of public service positions in Alaska, beginning with his involvement with Laborers Local 942. He served as Alaska Commissioner of Labor from 1986 to 1990 and was twice elected mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, serving from 1991 to 1997.

In 2003, Jim took the reins of AFL-CIO, Alaska's largest labor organization. In addition to leading the organization, he worked to attract support for an Alaska natural gas pipeline, urging Congress to pass a tax incentive package to advance the project. Sampson retired from his position at the AFL-CIO in 2006. This year, he was inducted into the Alaska Business Monthly Junior Achievement Hall of Fame.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award was first given in 1962 and recognizes service to UAF, business or professional accomplishment, and distinguished human service. The association also honored 10 other alumni during the awards luncheon.

The 2008 Alumni Achievement Awards for Business and Professional Excellence went to Pat Cole, '72, chief of staff for multiple City of Fairbanks mayors; former state representative Kay Wallis, '73; and Lorena Hegdahl, '77, engineering director for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

The Alumni Achievement Award for University Support went to Mike Sfraga '84, '97, founding director of the University of Alaska's geography program.

Merritt "Mitch" Mitchell, '50, former UAFAA board president, Marie Matsuno Nash, '67, former staffer for U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, and Richard "Tark" Tarkianen, '72, a former teacher and coach who helped develop local high school hockey programs, each received an Alumni Achievement Award for Community Support.

Don Jamieson '87 and Scott Keyes '95 who helped form the UAF hockey alumni chapter are this year's winners of the William R. Cashen Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding service to the alumni association.

Ernest "Ernie" Wolff, '41, former head of the UAF School of Mines was the recipient of the Lenhart J.H. Grothe Resource Award. The Grothe posthumously honors an alumnus for contributions in the resource, mining or agricultural fields.

The awards luncheon was just one of many activities scheduled as part of the 2008 alumni reunion. Other events included an information fair in the Wood Center, a tour of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, a book signing by alumni authors, alumni night at The Pub and lighting of the Starvation Gulch bonfires.

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