UA Building to Carry Name of Longtime Resource Industry Educators
Dennis and Ginger Steffy
The University of Alaska will recognize two steadfast supporters of mining and petroleum industry training and education by naming a Kenai Peninsula College building in their honor Saturday.
The husband and wife team of Dennis and Ginger Steffy have nearly 70 years of service between them in support of vocational-technical education in Alaska’s mining and petroleum industries. Since the founding of UA’s Mining and Petroleum Training Service, or MAPTS, in 1979, the Steffys have helped train an estimated 100,000 students in everything from underground mine safety training to oil and gas drilling technology.
In recognition of their contributions, the university will officially dedicate the MAPTS building on the Kenai Peninsula College as the “Dennis and Ginger Steffy Mining and Petroleum Training Center of Excellence.” The dedication will occur at 10 a.m. Saturday, at 162 College Road in Soldotna. The public is invited. A reception will follow the ceremony.
“So many people who have started a mining career in Alaska, or a career in the oil industry, have been touched in some way by Dennis and Ginger Steffy,” said outgoing UA President Mark Hamilton. “The University of Alaska started as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. Instructors and leaders like Dennis and Ginger, as well as many others, continue our longstanding tradition of preparing good stewards of our state’s natural resources.”
Dennis Steffy has nearly 40 years of continuous service to the oil, gas and mining industry. He’s been director of MAPTS since 1979, when it was known as the Petroleum Extension Program at KPC. He’s perhaps Alaska’s most internationally recognized expert in oil and gas drilling technology, mining and health safety education, having helped establish and operate the Sakhalin-Alaska College in Russia.
Steve Borell of the Alaska Miners Association said Dennis Steffy has a “passion” for training miners. “He’s unique in that he has hands-on underground mining experience, he’s an educator and he has the political skills necessary to work with the university system and the legislature,” Borell said.
Ginger Steffy retired as director of Kenai Peninsula College in 2002, a position she held for 15 years. Previously, she served in a variety of positions at KPC, including teaching physics, physical science, math and energy. She also developed courses in energy resource technology. She retired after 29 years of service to the university with emeritus director status. Ginger Steffy also was instrumental in creating the Alaska Process Industries Careers Consortium (APICC) in 1999, which brings industry and education leaders together to form relevant curriculum in process technology.
“Ginger led the effort in getting the process technology program endorsed across the university system, at multiple locations,” said Dave Rees, a retired BP employee and member of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board. Rees also worked with Ginger Steffy as a founding member of APICC. “That level of collaboration was something that really hadn’t happened before. I think without Ginger, the process tech program would be struggling in many respects. The program is graduating about 60 to 70 percent of folks who start it, and of those, 80 to 90 percent are getting jobs in the industry. It’s been a real successful program.”
The Steffys first came to Alaska in the late 1960s. They started as teachers at Kenai Central High School and were vocational education advocates from the beginning. Among many other contributions, they developed several important UA petroleum industry degree programs at KPC, including associate degrees in process technology, petroleum engineering, industrial process instrumentation, and a certificate in petroleum technology.
In 1979, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration designated MAPTS as its sole training agent in Alaska. MAPTS continues today as the only MSHA-certified training provider in the state. APICC, meanwhile, has since become a nationally recognized organization and a model for other states to follow.
“This honor was as unexpected as it is humbling,” Dennis Steffy said. “Anything I have accomplished was because I have had an incredibly talented and competent staff. My staff has stuck with our mission, 'it's all about the student,' through many very challenging assignments.”
Ginger Steffy added, “It has been my pleasure over the years to work with excellent faculty and staff at Kenai Peninsula College. The college has been fortunate to have had such strong industry support for its programs. It’s been my privilege to have worked with industry colleagues to help develop vocational training for Alaskans."
The MAPTS program recently moved organizationally to University of Alaska Statewide Corporate Programs, which links industry with workforce training in numerous disciplines.
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For more information, call Duane Heyman, director of University of
Alaska Statewide Corporate Programs, at 907/786-6949. For more
information about MAPTS, go to http://www.alaska.net/~mapts/.