Amy Cooper, UAF School of Management accounting instructor, has been named as one of the 2015 Top 40 Under 40 in the Accounting Profession by CPA Practice Advisor magazine. This award is given for involvement in the accounting profession and the local community. 

Amy has long been recognized by students and fellow faculty as an excellent and engaging instructor, and has also served for many years as faculty advisor for the student organization GAAP-Great Alaskan Accounting People. With this award, she is now recognized as one of the “best and brightest talent in the accounting profession” across the nation.

What does it mean to you to be recognized by your peers with this award?
It is an incredible honor. I know many young CPAs across the U.S. and whenever I am around them, at conferences, at American Institute of CPAs meetings or at the Alaska Society of CPA meetings, I am amazed at their accomplishments and the enthusiasm they have for our profession. I love the accounting profession and believe very strongly in giving back – both to the profession and to our community. To be a part of a group that is recognized for giving back to the accounting profession is more than I could have ever asked for.

How do you feel you are taking the accounting profession into the future?
I am lucky to interact with accounting students through teaching. I love being able to combine my passion for accounting with my passion for teaching. If I can show students how fun and relevant accounting is; help them sharpen their skills to become a stronger student and a strong candidate for an accounting position after graduation; and give them guidance as they figure out their path, then I feel like I am able to contribute a small piece to the future of the accounting profession.

The full list of honorees can be seen on the CPA Practice Advisor website.

Posted by: amiller | July 13, 2015

Alumni Spotlight – Tim Stickel

Stickel_Goldpanner game-ps

Tim at a Goldpanners game with his daughter Kaylee, a UAF student, and his son Jesse, a sophomore at West Valley High School

Tim is the Student Services Manager for the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) eLearning & Distance Education department. Tim earned his MBA from UAF in 1993.

Why did you choose to attend UAF?
I took a position with UAF Residence Life and Housing and wanted to continue my education. With great faculty, great students, and a great atmosphere, UAF offered everything I wanted.

Share with us an outstanding teacher or class.
Two of my favorite classes were Managerial Economics with Dr. Greg Goering and Corporate Strategy with Dr. Jim Collins. They were both very challenging courses and professors, but their teaching style really clicked with me.

How did the School of Management (SOM) prepare you for your professional career?
I had plans to become a commodities broker and was offered a broker position in Missouri. I passed on that opportunity to come to Alaska to pursue my MBA and work at the university. It was one of the best decisions of my life. It was in my SOM courses I learned how to value human resources and employee development, monitor financial accounting and manage fiscal operations, set goals and prepare strategic plans. Most importantly, SOM taught me about commitment, perseverance and personable service.

What does being a UAF alumnus mean to you?
Fairbanks and Nanook Nation has been home for 25 years. It means a close community, a premier research institution, top-notch faculty and diverse, committed students. I like the close ties to the community and the state, and a well-respected degree. Nanook Nation is a place where you can write your own story – where individuality is encouraged, diversity is honored and everyone knows your name; friends call me “Stick” by the way.

What keeps you enthusiastic about your career?
Every day is exciting as I not only work with outstanding students, staff and faculty, but right now, I am part of an innovative and dynamic team that is always on the cutting edge. UAF eLearning continues to expand the number of course offerings and add new online degrees each year. It’s an exciting time for UAF as online education is bringing access to others who might not otherwise have the opportunity for higher education.

What’s the number one skill or practice that has contributed to your success?
People and relationships matter! We don’t always understand the challenges or difficulties a student or staff member is facing when they come to us. So being able to be patient, understanding and willing to help someone through whatever challenge they are experiencing, or leading them to that “aha” teachable moment is inspiring to me.


  • What is your favorite breakfast food?  Homemade sausage, egg and cheese bagel. They are a favorite with my kids, as well.
  • Dream vacation destination?  Anywhere with warm sun, warm sand, and warm family and friends.
  • Book you are currently reading?  “The Blessed Life” by Robert Morris.
  • Last music download?  Van Morrison, Zac Brown Band and James Taylor.

For more stories like this… Check out the latest SOM Newsletters!

Stickel_snowmachining with kids

Tim snow-machining with his daughter, Kaylee (left), and Kaylee’s friend

Stickel_snowmachining with son

Tim snow-machining with his son, Jesse

Posted by: amiller | July 13, 2015

Faculty Focus – Sean McGee


Sean grew up on New York’s Long Island and graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) with a bachelor’s degree in justice in 1991 That same year, he accepted a position with the North Slope Borough as a Peace Officer. Sean served with the Borough through June of 1993, when he accepted a position with the UAF Police Department where he held the rank of officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and chief. Sean was a member and an instructor for the Alaska State Trooper’s Specialized Emergency Reaction Team (S.E.R.T.) for 15 years. He graduated from the FBI’s National Academy in 2000. Sean retired from police work in 2014. Sean has been an instructor for the UAF Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) program for three years.

What brought you to Alaska?
I was bitten by the “Alaska bug” early in life. By 7th grade, I began making plans to see Alaska and attend UAF. In 1985, I enrolled at UAF, and haven’t looked back since!

What do you enjoy about Alaska?
I grew up in an area of New York that was stereotypically “New York.” Coming to Alaska, I found people to be incredibly friendly, which was somewhat different from what I was used to. That is what inspired me to make Alaska home for the past 30 years.

What would you like to tell us about your family?
Beyond a shadow of a doubt I am extremely fortunate to have my family. My wife Keli and I met at UAF in 1988. Our oldest son John works at UAF Career Services, our middle child Sean starts classes at UAF in the fall, and our daughter Megan will be a sophomore in high school this year.

Why do you teach at the School of Management (SOM)?
I teach for SOM because SOM had the vision to bring the Homeland Security and Emergency Management program in-house. There isn’t any other degree program for which I’d want to be teaching.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?
My favorite class is Principles of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, HSEM’s introduction course. I enjoy interacting with large groups of students from around the nation who are engaged in matters associated with homeland security and emergency management for the first time.

What research or project are you working on now?
HSEM is exploring partnerships with large emergency dispatch centers in the western portion of the US, who are actively seeking opportunities to provide their employees with HSEM’s course offerings. I’m involved in developing the curriculum for these agencies.

Let’s pretend students savor every word professors say. What advice do you have for current students?
Take the time to identify the area of study that truly interests you; applying yourself in school becomes so much easier and more rewarding when you are interested in your studies, and it never hurts to be able to make a living in a field that you are passionate about.

Any SOM stories you’d like to share?
I can’t get over how pleasant and professional the students, staff, and faculty are at SOM. I’ve been involved with UAF in one capacity or another in the past 30 years, and I can attest that what we have here at SOM is unique. “This” does not just happen; I am fortunate to be a part of this department.


  • Favorite place to vacation? I enjoy going back to New York and visiting with my folks. It’s always nice for me to go to where I grew up.
  • Book you are currently reading? I just finished reading “Benghazi: The Definitive Report,” and now I am reading “Spy Sub: A Top Secret Mission to the Bottom of the Pacific.”
  • Your last music download?  Soundtrack from the movie “Focus.”
  • If I granted you one wish to change the world what would it be? I’d like to think that we as a society would finally realize that we need to invest in preventative measures when it comes to our aging critical infrastructure, and that change would be my wish. if I can’t have that, then world peace.

For more stories like this… Check out the latest SOM Newsletters!


Sean pictured with his children, John, Sean, and Megan


Posted by: amiller | March 26, 2015

Alumni Spotlight – Kris Racina

Kris Racina ski-edit

Kris on the slopes

Kris is the Associate Vice Chancellor of University and Student Advancement at UAF. She graduated from SOM with an MBA in 2009.

Why did you choose to attend UAF?
I grew up in Fairbanks and UAF has always been part of my life. My brothers and sisters attended school here, and my nieces and nephews are either enrolled or will soon be attending.

Share with us an outstanding teacher or class.
I was a “mathophobe,” fearful of math because of a bad experience with an elementary school teacher. Later at UAF, a developmental math teacher helped me crack the code by telling me “trust the formula, work the formula – the logic will eventually reveal itself.”

What is a favorite SOM memory?
Jim Collins’ take home final in MBA quantitative analysis. Don’t let him fool you; I spent 40 hours on it. That was the only time I ever had a meltdown when I visited a professor. Well, the only time I recall. Maybe Jim has a different memory of that day?!

What does being a UAF alumnus mean to you?
I belong to a community of shared experiences and understanding – a rigorous education that I am proud of and proud to help others achieve.

What’s the number one skill or practice that has contributed to your success?
The ability to sift through information and extract the essential elements needed for decision-making. The many case studies I read as a SOM student taught me you have to make decisions based on the information you have in front of you. Avoid commitment to a poor choice if you get new information that indicates a change of course – in the business world it’s all about being adaptable.

What advice would you give to current students?
Math teaches you how to think logically and is worth every bit of effort you put into it. After my experience with the developmental math teacher, I went on to achieve ‘As’ in every math class I took; I even loved calculus. I engage in logical analysis every day and that has been valuable in so many professional endeavors.


  • Favorite breakfast food? Eggs, any style but over easy, especially with cheese.
  • What book are you reading? “Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences.” Working on a Ph.D. – slowly but surely.
  • Where is your dream vacation? New Zealand hiking trip; hopefully in December 2016.
  • Last music download? Mindy Abair, “I Can’t Wait For Christmas.” She’s a great sax player and this is a super cool, jazzy, sexy Christmas song. Give it a listen; ‘tis the season.
  • What’s the best advice you didn’t take? Don’t sell your first house. Argggghhh, I wish I had kept it as a rental unit.

Kris Racina on segway

Posted by: amiller | March 19, 2015

Donor Spotlight – PDC Inc. Engineers

PDC Logo-500
acing New Challenges in the Arctic
by Royce Conlon, PE
President and Principal Engineer

Ask anyone to name an innovative engineering company in Alaska, and odds are they’ll name PDC. With roots dating back more than half of a century, PDC has since steadily grown to become the comprehensive, full-service engineering, planning, and survey firm that practices today. With 84 professionals split between its Fairbanks and Anchorage offices, PDC can easily accommodate any project – large or small.

PDC’s multi-discipline structure inherently fosters on-the-fly collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking. “We like to challenge the industry through logical yet non-traditional approaches,” says President Royce Conlon.

Tell us how PDC’s involvement with SOM began.
The UAF Arctic Innovation Competition (AIC) was created by Dr. Ping Lan in 2009. During PDC’s 2009 strategic planning, we developed the firm’s current “Arctic Initiative” which serves as a guiding force in aligning the firm with the future design needs of the Arctic and the state. At this session, PDC’s leadership invited Dr. Lan as a speaker to share his thoughts about innovation. Conlon said “We were all in agreement that the Arctic is full of untapped opportunity where future growth is moving throughout the nation and the world.”

Considering that PDC is on the leading edge of innovation, the AIC and the firm’s Arctic Initiative were a perfect complement. “We did not hesitate to sponsor the AIC, and have plans for continued support well into the future,” Conlon said.

What inspires you to support SOM through the Arctic Innovation Competition?
“Innovative ideas like the ones generated by the AIC are intrinsic to PDC’s mission – Transforming Challenges into Solutions – so supporting the event seemed like a perfect match to our goals,” Conlon added. A great example is Nick and Cass Ferree’s 2012 entry into the AIC competition. Nick is a civil engineer in PDC’s Fairbanks office (and also a UAF graduate). Their entry was for an innovative Hide-A-Hitch design. The Hide-A-Hitch operates the same as a standard ball receiver hitch, but folds up underneath the vehicle when not in use. Nick and Cass completed designs, constructed a prototype, and created a business plan earning them third place in the competition.

PDC has not only continued with monetary support, but Nick also serves as a judge for the competition and has helped educate the public regarding AIC through his interviews on local radio. For AIC 2014, PDC provided the $2,000 “Arctic Kicker” prize incentive given to the best arctic-related idea.

What advice do you have for current SOM students?
“My advice would be that there are plenty of great job opportunities right here in Alaska that can use your skills,” Conlon said. “With a staff of 84 professionals, PDC currently has 41 staff members who are graduates from the University of Alaska system – and 28 of those are UAF graduates.”

Conlon added, “PDC is well-poised to continue our growth trend. PDC is always looking for bright, new talent who understand the challenges that face those who live and work in the cold-region environment of the Arctic.”

What would you tell an organization considering giving a gift to SOM?
Giving a gift to SOM is smart business and a smart investment into Alaska’s future. It helps strengthen Alaska’s business community and Alaska’s business opportunities. Your gift will go toward educating future business men and women – how can you go wrong?

Elliot Wilson, one of PDC’s Structural Engineers, applying innovation to a personal challenge – designing and constructing an arch shaped icehouse.

Elliot Wilson, one of PDC’s Structural Engineers, applying innovation to a personal challenge – designing and constructing an arch shaped icehouse.

Nick Ferree-Ice Cave-350

Nick Ferree, one of PDC’s Civil Engineers, and his wife Cass enjoying time in an ice cave

Posted by: amiller | March 12, 2015

Alumni Spotlight – Elaine Williamson

Elaine Williamson

Leading the Way for Students
Elaine Williamson

My journey to SOM spans several years and some changed dreams. I graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1984. The summer before graduation was spent in Fairbanks visiting my older sister and working at Gate 5, a local Fairbanks restaurant.

After graduation, I returned to Fairbanks with plans to stay for only one year while applying to law schools. Once I moved back to Fairbanks, I didn’t want to leave. With UAF in my backyard, I enrolled in accounting courses in the School of Management. At first I wasn’t planning on getting a degree, but after a few semesters it seemed logical to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting. I decided it would be acceptable to change my journey.

In an accounting class, Professor Tom Bartlett made an announcement about the Alaska Society of Certified Public Accountants, and encouraged us to apply for its Paul Hagelbarger Memorial Scholarship. I was selected as one of the recipients. That summer, I received a phone call from Garry Hutchison, from Kohler, Schmitt & Hutchison, PC, (KSH) asking if I was interested in interning at the firm. Jean Schmitt, one of his partners, who had served on the society’s scholarship committee, had showed him my resume.

I was energized by the offer and things began moving quickly. That internship led to a permanent position at the firm in the fall of 1990, and ten years later, I became a partner. I am grateful for the education I received at UAF’s School of Management and feel very fortunate for the opportunities and successes I have enjoyed as a result.

I also feel privileged to have worked with Jean Schmitt prior to her retirement. She was a great role model and I am very proud that KSH is able to annually support the scholarship established in her honor.

My journey is far from over. I feel a connection to SOM and continue to stay involved in numerous ways – such as serving on the SOM Accounting Advisory Board, participating in the Spring Etiquette Dinner, helping Kohler, Schmitt & Hutchison to recruit accounting students, and making personal and business gifts to SOM.

Elaine in Vietnam

Elaine in Vietnam

I encourage you to join me in a journey to SOM. Chart your own course, find different ways to reach your destination, but find a way to get involved. Volunteer your time to speak to students, host a student organization at your work, participate in a SOM event, or give a gift to SOM to help students to succeed. Anything you do will help support future SOM students in their own journeys.

Posted by: amiller | March 5, 2015

SOM faculty and alumni chosen for Top Forty under 40

top40under40SOM is pleased to congratulate the recently selected recipients of the Alaska’s Top Forty Under 40 for 2015, who include a member of the SOM faculty and two SOM alumni:

Nicole Cundiff

Nicole Cundiff

Dr. Nicole Cundiff, Assistant Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management, Fairbanks

Magen James, Programs/Events Director, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Anchorage; UAF BBA ’11,

Charlie Kozak, EVP/CFO, Arctic Slope Regional Corp., Anchorage; UAF BBA ’97, MBA ’98

This award, granted by the Alaska Journal of Commerce, saw its highest ever number of nearly 160 individuals nominated for this year’s class. A complete list of the 2015 Top 40 Under 40 class is available online.

The 2015 Top Forty Under 40 class will be honored on April 3 at the Dena’ina Civic & Convention Center in Anchorage. Tickets are available by contacting Michelle Ditmore at (907) 275-2178 or

Posted by: amiller | March 2, 2015

Student Investment Fund surpasses $1 million

The Student Investment Fund at the University of Alaska Fairbanks recently surpassed a total of $1 million.

The fund was established at the School of Management in 1991 by $100,000 of unrestricted gifts from private donations provided for student investment purposes. The growth of the initial investment to over $1 million demonstrates the success of this program since its inception. Over the years, the fund has provided $65,500 in scholarships 46 students. In recent years, robust earnings provided more money for need-based scholarships, allowing four annual awards of $2,500 each.

Students enrolled in the Student Investment Fund course gain real-world experience implementing investment selection and stock valuation principles, gaining practical knowledge and experience that reach far beyond typical coursework. Ultimately, the student fund managers acquire a deeper and more complex understanding of the concepts taught throughout their undergraduate and graduate finance studies.

“The student managers are fully responsible for the day-to-day management of the portfolio, thus gaining hands-on money management experience,” said fund faculty advisor Phil Younker. “The process helps them develop their financial intuition and provides an arena for practical application of investment decisions.”

Several donors support the fund and the technology needed to stay ahead of the indexed markets. With gifts from McKinley Capital Management, Northrim Bank and Alaska General Contractors, the students are armed with tools such as two Bloomberg terminals and specialized financial databases. These resources give students a competitive edge over their peers at other universities and better prepare them for professional success.

Posted by: amiller | February 19, 2015

Interning at UAF’s Fittest Winner Competition

Photo-Kayli Stanfill

Kayli Stanfill

Kayli Stanfill is graduating in May 2015 with a degree in business administration and a concentration in finance. She currently works as an accountant for S & S Accounting and Consulting, and plans on pursuing a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate.

Choosing a Business Administration degree
My mother has always been a paragon in the local community and the nonprofit world. She even ventured as far as to start her own small accounting firm, all the while working a full time job and supporting her family. This imbued in me a want to be successful and vital in my community. When I decided to attend UAF, I wanted a degree that would help me to gain profitable skills and enable me to provide service to people. That’s when I found School of Management, and applied to the Business Administration degree program. I have always been extremely artistic and creative, but I also wanted a skill set that could land me a good paying job right out of school, or grant me the ability to start my own business.

FWC-info boardChoosing the UAF Fittest Winner Competition
When I discovered there was an internship open that could encompass the skills that I had learned in my college and professional life, I jumped at it. The Fittest Winner Competition (FWC), as it came to be known, became my full responsibility to facilitate and further develop. The internship was amazing, because I was given creative freedom to construct the ideal program for UAF faculty and staff. The program was designed to motivate individuals and teams to get fit and exercise.

I was responsible for maintaining budgets, running meetings, creating marketing materials, hosting and planning events, and giving professional presentations. It felt amazing to be a part of enriching the lives of others – while building an assortment of business know-how.

First-hand learning
The amount of professional information and skills I gained is multitudinous. I learned so much in such a small amount of time. I feel I can now apply for any number of jobs in the professional business world. I have gained a copious amount of management, communications, operations, finance, data entry, and administration skills.

Advice for students
Take advantage of opportunities! Some positions also pay well, and all positions offer an array of necessary skills to advance as an individual and businessperson.

Best thing about interning at UAF Fittest Winner Competition
Some of the best things about my internships were my co-workers, the supportive and appreciative management, the consistent helpful advice, and the feeling I got when a WFC participant would thank me for the work I had been doing because it enriched their life.

Read more about internships here.

FWC-info table


Posted by: amiller | February 12, 2015

Roast and Boast keeps it local

Team RNB 2014

Dean Herrmann, instructor Tammy Tragis-McCook and SOM students Ana Rodriquez, Travis Cortez, Jordan Ferland and Alex Springer working at the event.

Northrim Bank and a SOM student team hosted a crowd of more than 200 for the 3rd annual Roast and Boast in November. Conducted as a marketing class project, the event allows the students to learn how to plan and manage a cross-promotional event, while supporting local businesses by featuring Fairbanks’ favorite coffee roasters.

The event was a fun experience for all, with music, food, plenty of hot beverages, and door prizes. In addition to the roasters boasting about their wares, SOM Dean Mark Herrmann highlighted the active engagement between SOM, Northrim, and the Fairbanks community, beyond the bank’s monetary contributions to the school.

Although the Roast and Boast offers great publicity for both Northrim and the roasters, the real benefit is for the students, as it offers a unique opportunity not available in the classroom. In addition to learning the basic concepts of marketing, these students gain experience conducting weekly business meetings, staying within budget, making marketing decisions, and working with the roasters and vendors. Potential employers covet these types of skills.

“I know my marketing and public relations skills have improved due to the experience,” said senior Business Administration student Travis Cortez. “Many who attended the event were overjoyed with the UAF student involvement. I could honestly feel the community’s pride in the event.”

In addition to being the “client” with real world requests and feedback, Northrim’s Marketing and Communications Director Jay Blury also acted as a mentor, leading the students through the entire process.   He encouraged them to capitalize on their creativity while still making sound business decisions.

“UAF School of Management is thankful to Northrim Bank for offering this unique opportunity to our students,” said Tammy Tragis-McCook, SOM’s Director of Development and Outreach. “Together we are preparing future leaders of Alaska.”

Story courtesy of Northrim Bank.

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