Gretchen taught at University of Alaska Anchorage and Anchorage Community College for 35 years. She coordinated the creation of the Masters degree in Adult Education at UAA in 1990 and taught a wide variety of graduate courses in the program as well as chairing 100 thesis committees. She has built a retreat center at her family homestead on Yukon Island and hosts noted scholars, courses, and retreats there every summer including those focused on adult education/adult learning, archaeology, ecology, geology, botany and marine biology, wellness, and writing & poetry. She earned her Ph.D. in Adult Education from Florida State University.
She has received numerous honors, including the Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence, a statewide honor through the University of Alaska Foundation. In December 2008, she was inducted into the International Adult & Continuing Education Hall of Fame in Budapest, Hungary, and into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
She has been actively involved in the Russian Far East since 1989, especially with the Northern International University (now the North-Eastern State University) in Magadan, which made her an honorary professor. (Magadan is Anchorage’s Sister City.) In 1996/7, she established and funded an Outstanding Teacher of the Year at the university there that still continues. She received the Medal of Merit for Magadan Service award from the Magadan Mayor (now Governor) Vladimir Pechony.
One of her research interests has been to film interviews of noted national and international adult education scholars and edit them into programs in a series called Conversations on Lifelong Learning. By 2014, she had filmed over 80 scholars and edited/produced 50 of them into programs in DVD format.
She was awarded Professor Emerita status in 1997, and continued to teach until fall 2006, when she retired to focus on other projects including adult education research, programs for older adults, and writing/publications. She is still involved nationally and internationally in the adult and continuing education field, doing research, writing and publishing, presenting and teaching.
She volunteers with others on the board of OLÉ! (Board Chair, Opportunities for Lifelong Education–learning for adults over age 50). She serves on the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies board based in Homer and Kachemak Bay. When she has time, she follows her passion for family history.