Tordoff earns UA Bullock Prize for Excellence

By Reba Lean
Sun Star Reporter

Scattered among the levels of the Rasmuson Library are the offices of the Alaska Film Archives. The archive holds thousands of films and clips that pertain to Alaska.

Dirk Tordoff has been heading the film archives at UAF for 17 years, and has taken the collection to nationally recognized levels with the help of his staff. For his contribution and support of the university, Tordoff has received the $20,000 Bullock Prize for Excellence.

Tordoff started in the archives as a student majoring in Northern Studies. Tordoff, a non-traditional student in his 40s, became intrigued in the archive program after finding a piece of film of a dirigible (or blimp) that flew over the arctic in 1926. He started working in the archives in 1993.

Since then he has been working to catalogue and identify films and footage. He also supplies students, documentary film producers and even national broadcasting stations with accurate historical footage of Alaska.

Coworker Angela Schmidt started working for the archives not long after Tordoff. Her office is an organized chaos of monitors and recording devices with antique film reels hung on the walls. She said Tordoff’s office looks much of the same. “Dirk’s a good guy,” she said, “he’s fun to work for.”

Tordoff considers himself more of a “driving force” than anything. He wanted to make it clear that the archives’ success was not done single-handedly.

In recent years he has been displaying archive images on the Internet. The Alaska Film Archives’ footage can be found on Youtube.com by searching “alaskafilmarchives” or at vilda.alaska.edu.

UAF history professor Terrence Cole nominated Tordoff for the prize. “In many ways Dirk’s work has spread farther and wider around the world than that of anyone who has ever worked at the university in its entire history,” Cole said in a statement.

The award is the single largest given by the University of Alaska Foundation’s Board of Trustees each year. Edith R. Bullock was a member of the UA Board of Regents and Board of Trustees for 30 years. She established the award to commend people who demonstrated excellence in support of the University of Alaska.

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