Cal Mercer Retires after 37.5 Years with UA

The crowd that gathered in Butrovich 109 to say farewell to Cal Mercer after 37.5 years with the university was glowing in neon. An enterprising member of OIT brought in stacks of neon shirts for attendess to wear in his honor. Mercer was presented with an OIT logo emblazed neon yellow sweatshirt with his three million number, his UA ID, embroidered across the front. In the fashion of sports stars, his number was being "retired" on an official Cal Mercer "jersey." The yellow sweatshirt was featured in jokes, pictures and a video farewell. In one montage every member of OIT is pictured in the iconic yellow hoodie.

The gathering was festive, often humorous and featured root beer floats mixed to order from a real keg of root beer. Mercer was thanked for his many years of service and it was clear from every one who spoke that his knowledge, advice and sense of humor will be sorely missed.

Thank you Cal, and best of luck in your new adventures!� MORE PHOTOS.....

Welcome to Statewide Amy Ross

Started July 17, 2012

Administrative Coordinator
Statewide Budget Office

Amy Ross has joined the Statewide Budget Office as the administrative coordinator. Ross will maintain and coordinate office procedures in her new position.

Previously, Ross was a student at Valley City State University in Valley City, North Dakota, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, a customer relationship management certification, and an enterprise resource planning certification. Ross pursued computer information systems because she found it challenging, fast paced and applicable to a variety of jobs.

Ross is originally from Fairbanks. She left Fairbanks to play soccer at the collegiate level at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. She decided to return to Fairbanks for the summers, a strong support group including friends and family, and the greater tight knit local community.

During her free time, Ross enjoys hiking, fishing and spending time outdoors.

Matt Underbakke Joins Foundation Staff in Anchorage

Started July 16, 2012

Systems and reports administrator
UA Foundation

Matt Underbakke is the newest member of the UA Foundation. Underbakke will serve the department as the systems and reports administrator and take care of all of the databases for the UA Foundation.

Underbakke started with the foundation department on July 16 but has been working for the university since he graduated from UAA. He began as an intern with UAA Advancement. He was hired on full-time with Advancement and after a few years moved over to the Institute of Social and Economic Research. After completing his work, he joined Journalism and Public Communications.

Underbakke has been in Alaska since the fourth grade, but he is originally from Ventura, California, near Los Angeles. He has a bachelor’s degree from UAA in journalism and public communications with an emphasis in film and telecommunications. He has a strong interest in technology and has incorporated this passion into his education. Underbakke’s original intention was to study computer science, but he shifted concentrations to a field where he could utilize his computer knowledge and make it work for him, instead of him working for it.

He loves to make films and take photos. He likes to blend his passions and work on projects that incorporate technology and photography.

Rachel Voris Joins UA Public Affairs

Started July 9, 2012

Writer and Editor
UA Office of Public Affairs

Rachel Voris is the new writer and editor for the Office of Public Affairs. Her responsibilities include writing and editing within the department including collaborating on special projects, writing for the Statewide Voice, editing web content, producing press releases and other related news material.

For the past three years, Voris worked as an educator teaching middle school students writing, grammar and social studies in Colorado Springs where her family resides. Prior to teaching, she worked as a reporter for a small town in Texas. She is thrilled to be working in this department and returning to her roots in journalism.

Voris was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colo. She moved to Fairbanks from Colorado Springs at the beginning of the month with her husband. Though it is an adjustment, she is greatly looking forward to the new environment and being a part of the local community. Voris attended Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications. She received her secondary teaching license from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs while teaching.

Rachel is married to Michael Voris who is from Del Norte, Colorado. Michael started work this month as an admissions counselor at UAF. Voris values spending time with her family and her many nieces and nephews. She loves writing, photography, movies, exploring the outdoors and reading.

Welcome to Statewide Todd Vorisek

Started June 4, 2012

Student Programmer
Enterprise Application Services

Todd Vorisek is the new student programmer for the OIT EAS department. Vorisek is working on his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, expected in May of 2013.

Vorisek became a computer science major through an unexpected route. He had taken a class from Dr. Orion Lawlor and enjoyed it more than he expected. The class created interest for him, and he soon was taking more and more classes and eventually dedicated his major study to the field.

“I’ve always been better at applying tools than knowledge in my problem solving, and I got more satisfaction from working on something with a definitive end product,” Vorisek said about his position and major. Vorisek is thankful to his new department for making him feel at home and is excited about being apart of this new team of workers.

Vorisek started with the department on June 4. He is originally from Fairbanks. He is interested in computer games, camping, and sweaters. Vorisek says he considers sweaters to be the cutting edge in “programming comfort wear” as it has compartments, zipper based ventilation and sweaters even can serve as conversation starters.

Congraulations to the Kurowski's

Erica and Kyle Kurowski welcomed their first child last week.� Kaleb Ethan Kurowski was born in Anchorage, July 12 at 9:46 p.m., weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces.� Erica is Claims Technician for the System Office of Risk Services in Anchorage, and Kyle serves in the US Air Force at Elmendorf.

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