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.

Posted by: amiller | February 5, 2015

Faculty Focus: Cory Borgeson retires from SOM

Cory Borgeson family

Cory Borgeson with his family

Cory Borgeson earned a B.A. in psychology from Oakland University and a Juris Doctorate from Drake University. He is currently President/CEO of Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA). He serves on the SOM Business Advisory Council and is a SOM instructor retiring from teaching after more than 30 years in the classroom.

What brought you to Alaska?
I came to Alaska to take a job with Alaska Pacific Trust company which was associated with the First National Bank of Fairbanks. I actually worked with Darlene Tragis. I really enjoyed the work handling corporate retirement plans and personal trusts.

What do you enjoy about Alaska?
I enjoy the people who call Alaska home. People in Alaska are adventurous, active (even when it is 20 below zero), and know how to work and play hard. Hunting and fishing are lost on me, but I do enjoy one or two trips each year to Valdez to catch rock fish, salmon, or halibut.

When and how did you start teaching at SOM?
A co-worker had promised to teach Financial Investment Strategies for Dr. Besoit and then took a different job. Dr. Besoit told my friend John Blackmon that he had to find his replacement and I agreed to do it. That was in September of 1983.

What classes have you taught over the years?
I started teaching the Intro to Business class (BA 151) for a few semesters until the business law class opened up. In 1998, I was given a half-time faculty position and began teaching two courses a semester while also practicing law with Borgeson and Burns.

Share an outstanding SOM memory after teaching for three decades?
I spent three weeks teaching with a group of SOM faculty in Yakutsk, Russia. It was a wonderful experience bringing different educational ideas to the recently opened up Russia. Yakutsk, which was considered the gateway to Siberia, was still building basic infrastructure.

Being a part of the initial accreditation with the AACSB was very exciting. I still remember Dean Mike Rice and Business Department head Peter Besoit having their picture taken on the top of Bunnell holding brooms – declaring it was a clean sweep because all three programs at the SOM were accredited.

What advice do you have for current students?
Students should be thinking five years or ten years ahead. It is important to set goals to be successful. As an assignment in my employment law class, I asked students to draft an employment agreement for their dream job. Although good writing is essential, I felt that asking students to articulate where they want to work, how much they want to make, and the types of responsibilities they want to take on was the most valuable part of the assignment.

What will you miss most about teaching?
Meeting new students. I taught the online courses for a while but it didn’t seem that fulfilling.

What would you like to tell us about your family?
My wife Diane and I have been married for 35 years. She retired as the CEO of the Interior Community Health Center at the end of 2014. We have four children. Our youngest, Nicole, graduated from Bennington College in December of 2014.  Our oldest is graduating from a nursing program in Michigan; Brad has three children (see picture of our grandchildren). Our son Bret (32) lives in New Orleans and works on TV shows and films. He has just finished a 7-month work effort on the FX Channel’s American Horror Story, working in the camera department. Gavin, who is 24, lives in Fairbanks and works for Alasconnect as a desktop computer technician. He is in the Computer Science program at UAF.

Any stories you’d like to share?
One semester, I had a student approach me saying she was having trouble with the class because she was going through a divorce. Two weeks later, I had a student comment that they were having trouble with the class because he was getting married.

I was lead counsel for a client in a trial where my client was accused of construction fraud and misrepresentation. The plaintiff was seeking over 25 million in damages. The trial lasted the entire month of May. The jury came back with a defense verdict and actually awarded my client 1.2 million dollars against the plaintiff. Waiting for a jury to make a decision is a nail-biting experience.

In June 2012, I accepted the CEO position at GVEA. I find the job very challenging. I came to realize that as a lawyer, I did not have to make decisions; I gave advice. Making decisions is tougher work.

Favorite place to vacation? Our home in Las Vegas
Book you are currently reading? “Change the Culture, Change the Game” by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. Real exciting, right?
Your last music download? “Sing” by Ed Sheeran
If I granted you one wish to change the world what would it be? I would swap guns for books

Posted by: amiller | January 29, 2015

UAF ranked in among top five emergency management programs


The 2014 listings recently released by the Emergency Management Degree Program Guide rank UAF’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Program as fifth in the U.S. for program quality and second in the U.S. for affordability.

The ranking defines affordability as a net tuition price of less than $23,000 a year, after factoring in financial aid and scholarships. The assessments also took into account factors such as freshmen retention rate, six-year graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, availability of student organizations and internship requirements.

The HSEM program has flourished in the last five years, undergoing improvements and expansion to address the needs of the industry and a diverse student population. New courses were developed and integrated into the program, while others were removed. The program ensures students have the opportunity to select course concentrations that are relevant to their employment needs. These changes resulted in concentrations in emergency management and homeland security. An additional concentration in fire administration is under development.

“The HSEM program is ideally situated in both quality and cost to support a student wanting to secure their future,” said program director Cam Carlson. “We offer robust courses supporting the educational needs of those who either work or will work within the HSEM profession, and we ensure what we provide is both relevant and interesting to meet the needs of our students.”

This recognition is significant for both UAF and the School of Management, as it demonstrates that a student can obtain a high-quality education at an affordable price. The HSEM program is committed to ensuring that UAF students are engaged beyond the classroom in preparing for a management career within the homeland security and emergency management field.

For more information about the HSEM program, visit the HSEM website.

AACSB-low_res_blueThe School of Management (SOM) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has maintained its business and accounting accreditations by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting.

AACSB accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business and accounting education, and has been earned by less than five percent of the world’s business programs. The additional specialized accounting accreditation is extremely rare, and is held by just 181 business schools in the world (1.4%); UAF is the only school in Alaska to have achieved this specialized accounting accreditation.

The School of Management received news that its dual School and Accounting accreditations had been extended for another five years, after a fall 2014 visit to the school by four Business Deans and Accounting Program Directors from around the nation. In their follow-up report, the visiting review team noted: “SOM provides numerous opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning both in and out of the classroom.  Through activities such as company-based projects, community initiatives, and student organizations, students gain hands-on experience that helps bridge the transition from student to professional.”

As the highest level of recognition a business school can achieve, this continued validation of quality has paid off for UAF students, with the School of Management now reaching all-time high numbers of students and graduates. In less than a decade, SOM has seen a 60% increase in majors and a 150% increase in graduates. Upon graduation, SOM students will be recognized by potential employers as graduates from a top-quality business school, as validated by the AACSB International body, whose membership represents Deans from the most prestigious business schools in the world.

To learn more about the UAF School of Management visit Or to learn more about AACSB International accreditation, visit the accreditation section of the AACSB International Web site at:

About AACSB International
AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), founded in 1916, is an association of more than 716 educational institutions, businesses, and other organizations in 48 countries and territories. (For the most recent information visit, AACSB’s mission is to advance quality management education worldwide through accreditation, thought leadership, and value-added services. As the premier accreditation body for institutions offering undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degrees in business and accounting, the association also conducts a wide array of conferences and seminar programs at locations throughout the world. AACSB’s global headquarters is located in Tampa, Florida, USA and its Asia Pacific headquarters is located in Singapore. For more information, please visit:

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