I first met Wendy Redman in the spring of 1983. I was new to Fairbanks and all I knew was that she worked for the University of Alaska Fairbanks in some capacity. One evening, at a party, I found myself paired with a guy named Pat O’Rourke in a game of pinochle. Wendy was paired with Pat’s wife Charla. When I asked Pat if he taught at the school, he said he worked in administration with Wendy. It’s a good thing. I don’t think I could have played that game knowing I was sitting down with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ chancellor and chief lobbyist.
I tell that story to give you a sense of the self-effacing character of Wendy and Pat. As you will hear the two worked together to form the state’s community college system and when Pat became chancellor he tapped Wendy to represent the school in Juneau. But Wendy’s link to the University began far earlier. She arrived in Alaska more than 45 years ago. Her almost forty-year career with the school began in 1972 in the Biology Department, becoming the school’s first Administrative Assistant. She eventually rose to become executive vice president for university relations. In 1998 she was interim UA President for several months between the departure of Dr. Jerome B. Komisar and General Mark Hamilton’s first day on the job.
Wendy, helped form the Alaska Women’s Commission and created the Women’s Center at UAF. She’s received several honors. In 2000, she was awarded the Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence, and in 2010 was recognized as a woman of distinction by the local Girl Scouts.
Wendy was born and raised in Eastern Washington, near Lake Chelan. She attended Eastern Washington University and the University of Washington, eventually receiving her masters of public policy degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1984.
When she retired, Wendy returned to Chelan and I began our discussion by asking about her childhood and why she returned to her hometown.