Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gasbarro to receive meritorious service award at commencement

Professor Emeritus Tony Gasbarro will be honored with a Meritorious Service Award May 10 at the UAF commencement.

Tony Gasbarro
Gasbarro taught in the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences for 23 years and served as the state extension forester for the Cooperative Extension Service. His dedication to public service began when he joined the Peace Corps after college and continued throughout his career at UAF and after his 1996 retirement, when he rejoined the Peace Corps and traveled to El Salvador as a forestry advisor.

Since his return from the Peace Corps in 1998, Gasbarro has given many presentations to high school and university classes about poverty and the education of women in El Salvador. During the past decade, he also volunteered as coordinator of the university’s Peace Corps Master’s International Program.

Gasbarro was elected a "Fellow of the Society of American Foresters" and in 2003 was awarded the Lillian Carter Award for Peace Corps service. His international service was recognized by Epsilon Sigma Phi in 2004.

"The value of his 40 years relationship with UAF is also apparent to all the faculty members with whom he has interacted," said former dean of the Graduate School, Larry Duffy. "He exemplifies UAF's culture of service to state and nation."

Mary Alice Bramming, president of the Project Salvador board of directors, said, "Tony is passionate about helping the Salvadoran people not only through the scholarship program he founded but also through the other projects, which Project Salvador supports.

"When Tony returned from his Salvadoran Peace Corps term he approached the Project Salvador Board to take his scholarship program under our umbrella of projects. He told us that he was committed to visiting El Salvador twice a year so that he could personally know and support the students in their studies. His passion for El Salvador is contagious.

"Tony has committed his personal financial resources to both the scholarship program and to the other programs of Project Salvador. His fund raising efforts are unceasing and innovative. He has connected with old friends, former students, former Peace Corps volunteers, Salvadorans living in the United States and Canada, his relatives and citizens of Alaska. He takes every opportunity to give talks about the scholarship program and ask for donations. Tony believes deeply in education especially the education of girls, as they are the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in families.  Tony has witnessed how education has changed the lives of individual students, their families and communities. He has dedicated his time and resources to this effort."

Dianne Coursey and Daphne Hofschulte, co-directors of Teacher to Teacher: Alaska to El Salvador, wrote of Gasbarro: "Tony has been a faithful mentor and source of encouragement to us in developing our own philanthropic project. In the course of our work in El Salvador we have seen first hand the tremendous impact Tony has had on the lives of numerous Salvadorans through his many projects and programs.

"Tony has an unflagging love of literacy and education, and gives unstintingly of his time and effort to bring these basic gifts to the poorest Salvadorans, the least able to achieve them on their own.  Whether he is delivering books to a remote site, speaking to a group of young scholarship students under a tree or arranging a micro-economic loan of $50 for a new venture, he is enthusiastically welcomed into village after village.

"One of Tony’s strengths is that when he sees a need, he draws upon his extensive network of can-do people and puts together a plan to address it. He has a gift for creating modest ways for people with a desire to help to assist people in need. It is nearly impossible to listen to a presentation by Tony without pulling out your checkbook and giving generously to the identified charitable work."

 Further reading:

Mastering the Peace Corps, The toughest job you'll ever love, Aurora Magazine, Fall 2009, by LJ Evans

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