UAS to recognize 3 Juneauites with doctorate, service awards

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The University of Alaska Southeast will honor Clark Gruening with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws, while Sharon Gaiptman and William Todd Hunt will be recognized with Meritorious Service Awards.

    Although traditional ceremonies are not taking place in person, each campus has created a “virtual commencement” in which students can be celebrated while still observing the limitations placed by the recent outbreak of COVID-19. 

    All of the virtual commencements will be available at On May 1, the Sitka ceremony, as well as the annual Native Graduation celebration, will be available. May 2 is the date for Juneau and Ketchikan commencement.

    Gruening, Hunt, and Gaiptman will be honored at the Juneau event.

    UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield commented, “It is a privilege for the University of Alaska to recognize these outstanding leaders in our communities, and especially to do so at Commencement where we celebrate student achievement. In recognizing these exceptional individuals, we hold up their example of lifetime service as a model to our graduates – encouraging them to embrace a life of service to their own community.”

    Clark Gruening is known throughout Alaska for his contributions to our state. Born in California, but raised in Juneau, Clark graduated from Juneau Douglas High School in 1961. The University of Oregon granted him a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1965, and he earned his Juris Doctor with honors from George Washington University in 1969. 

    Clark is the grandson of the well-known Ernest Gruening, who was the Alaska territorial governor from 1939 to 1953. Clark served two terms in the House of Representatives for the Alaska Legislature. During this time, he was key to the creation of the Alaska Permanent Fund.

    Sharon Gaiptman has been an integral part of the Juneau community since she came to Alaska 40 years ago. Her involvement and contributions are not restricted to merely one area of focus but span and intertwine a broad spectrum in the Juneau community. A longtime host of the KINY radio show Capital Chat, Sharon has also served the Juneau Rotary Club, the Bartlett Hospital Foundation, the Alaska Travel Industry Association, the Student Youth Travel Association, the Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau, and many other organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech from the State University of New York at Brockport. 

    William Todd Hunt has an impressive record of service as a musical conductor and instrumentalist. He has shared his musical talents as a conductor across the State of Alaska, nationally, and internationally.  He holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and a Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from Indiana University. 

    He has received training from master conductors internationally. Invited in 1999 to conduct A Little Night Music for Juneau Lyric Opera, Todd fell in love with Juneau and has made this Southeast Alaska community his home since. Over the past five years alone, he has been the conductor or an instrumentalist in more than twenty musical productions in Juneau. Maestro Hunt is the Artistic Director of the Orpheus Project opera company and is the founder and Music Director of the Amalga Chamber Orchestra.

    He has served as Conductor for Juneau Lyric Opera, Taku Winds ensemble of the Juneau Community Bands, and Perseverance Theatre, and has served as a rehearsal conductor and guest conductor for the Juneau Symphony. 



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