In ceremonies this weekend, psychology students Cody Chipp and Jaymes Gonzales will become the first graduates to receive doctorate degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
UAA traces its roots back Anchorage Community College, which started in 1954. For years it has had the largest enrollment of any campus in the state, but only last week did the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the college's accrediting body, allow UAA to grant Ph.D.s.
"This is a major step forward for UAA and educational opportunities in Anchorage," said Provost Michael Driscoll.
Chipp and Gonzales's degrees are in clinical-community psychology and will carry the names of both UAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Psychology departments at the two campuses proposed a joint program in 2005 as a way to maximize the strengths of both faculties. The program started the following year but until now the Ph.D.s in the program were only awarded by UAF. The newly granted authorization means that the two degrees to be conferred this weekend "are the first time in history that they've been awarded by UAA," Driscoll said.
With its new status, UAA can consider granting doctorates in other disciplines in the future, not only as joint degrees but as diplomas awarded solely by UAA. Driscoll said the first such is likely to be in nursing.
"There've been some discussions already," he said. "UAA has the only school of nursing in the (University of Alaska) system. Going into the future, the next level of nurse practitioner will really require a doctorate."
A doctorate in educational leadership is also likely to be offered in time, Driscoll said.
The "hooding" ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Wendy Williamson Auditorium. During the event, those receiving masters and doctoral degrees are vested with a stole-like hood. Like the graduation gown and mortarboard hat, the ornate garment harks back to academic apparel from the Middle Ages.
"It welcomes the new graduate into the society of their esteemed colleagues and peers," Driscoll said. "The master's hood is fancy enough. The doctorate hood is even fancier."
Reach Mike Dunham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4332.