Visiting Elder Professor

About the VEP program

Indigenous knowledge provides the historical context necessary to provide well-grounded and effective academic work as well as innovative solutions to challenges facing the Arctic. For decades, College of Rural and Community Development’s academic programs and rural campuses have integrated Indigenous knowledge bearers into its curriculum and student services. These revered Alaska Native Elders share the history, stories, skills, and knowledge that cannot be found in textbooks. Their wisdom and insights enrich curriculum and our students’ academic and personal growth

Each semester, the office of the vice chancellor for rural, community and Native education brings to the Troth Yeddha’ campus a visiting elder professor who attends classes as a guest speaker, conducts workshops and meets with students to incorporate Alaska Native knowledge into the student and faculty experience.  The Visiting Elder Professor provides students and faculty cultural, spiritual, social knowledge and guidance as well as imparts important Indigenous knowledge. 

The VEP program hopes to:

  • celebrate Indigenous knowledge,
  • validate Indigenous practices and ways of knowing
  • provide Indigenous knowledge-based guidance to students,
  • provide cultural-based support, advice and assistance for Faculty, Staff and Student groups, and
  • collaborate with faculty on Indigenous knowledge research,
  • guest lecture and present on topics of Indigenous knowledge,
  • raise the awareness of Alaska Native culture with university staff and faculty, and
  • foster relationships between Alaska Native communities and the university.

Current Visiting Elder Professors:

Spring 2019 - Oscar and Sophie Alexie (Yu’pik)

Faculty and staff can request that Mr. and Mrs. Alexie speak as a guest lecturer from March 18 through March 29, and from April 22 through 26. To arrange Mr. and Mrs. Alexie as a guest lecturer, complete this request form.  If you would like to contact them to discuss a topic for a class or workshop, you can email both visiting professors at and

Once you arrive at a topic, please remember to schedule a date and time using this request form. If you have questions, please contact Sandy Kowalski at or 907-474-7089. They can speak on a variety of topics, including:

  • Spirituality: Yu’pik people’s beliefs and how this affects modern daily life
  • How children were taught and trained up in Yu’pik way
  • Differences in communication between generations and cultures
  • Yu’pik language and culture

In the News: Visiting Elder Professor

None at this time

Former Visiting Elder Professors:

Fall 2019 - Dr. Trimble Gilbert (Gwitch’in)

Spring 2018 Wilson Justin (Ahtna)