University of Alaska Fairbanks

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University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Alaska Fairbanks logo.png
Motto Naturally Inspiring
Established 1917
Type Public
Land-grant flagship
Endowment $143.7 million [1]
Chancellor Brian Rogers
Academic staff 697
Admin. staff 3014
Students 10,214
Undergraduates 8,988
Postgraduates 1,226
Location Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
64°51′32″N 147°50′08″W / 64.85889°N 147.83556°W / 64.85889; -147.83556Coordinates: 64°51′32″N 147°50′08″W / 64.85889°N 147.83556°W / 64.85889; -147.83556
Sports Alaska Nanooks
Colors Blue      and Gold     
Mascot Nanook
Affiliations UArctic

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF or simply Alaska) is a public research university in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Alaska System. UAF is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution and it also participates in the sun-grant program through Oregon State University. UAF was established in 1917 as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, first opening for classes in 1922. Over thirty years later, the Alaska Constitution was drafted and signed at UAF 1955 and 1956.

UAF is home to seven major research units: the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station; the Geophysical Institute, which operates the Poker Flat Research Range; the International Arctic Research Center; the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center; the Institute of Arctic Biology; the Institute of Marine Science; and the Institute of Northern Engineering. Located just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Fairbanks campus's unique location is situated favorably for Arctic and northern research. The campus's several lines of research are renowned worldwide, most notably in Arctic biology, Arctic engineering, geophysics, supercomputing, and aboriginal studies. The University of Alaska Museum of the North is also on the Fairbanks campus.

In addition to the Fairbanks campus, UAF encompasses seven rural and urban campuses: Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham; Chukchi Campus in Kotzebue; Interior-Aleutians Campus, which covers both the Aleutian Islands and the Interior; Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel; Northwest Campus in Nome; and the UAF Community and Technical College in Fairbanks, UAF's community college arm. Fairbanks is also the home of the UAF Center for Distance Education, an independent learning and distance delivery program.

In fall 2013, UAF enrolled 10,214 students. Of those students, 59.3 percent were female, 40.7 percent were male, 88 percent were undergraduates, and 12 percent were graduate students. In May 2013, there was a total of 1,288 graduates from the summer, fall, and spring semesters (UAF Facts and Figures, 2014).



Signers' Hall

The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) was established in 1917 as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, but its origins lie in the creation of a federal agricultural experiment station in Fairbanks during 1915. The station set the tone for the strongly research-oriented university that developed later.[2]

In 1915, the U.S. Congress approved an Alaska land grant legislation that reserved about 2,250 acres of land for a campus around the research station. It also allowed the federal government to give the college revenue land that had been surveyed and unclaimed in the Tanana Valley; the proceeds from the sale and development were supposed to help fund the operation of the college. However, as most of the land in Tanana Valley remained unsurveyed for years, the college only received 12,000 acres. In 1929, Congress attempted to remedy the situation by granting the college an additional 100,000 acres anywhere in Alaska, but those rights were extinguished in 1959 when Alaska became a state.[3]

In 1917, on a bluff above the Chena River, a cornerstone for the college was laid by Territorial Delegate James Wickersham. The site soon became known as College Hill. Charles E. Bunnell was appointed the university’s chief executive and served the university for 28 years. The new institution had its first opening day on September 18, 1922 and offered sixteen different courses to a student body of six (at a ratio of one faculty member per student). In 1923, the first commencement produced one graduate, John Sexton Shanly.[4]

In 1935, the Alaska legislature passed a bill that officially changed the name of the college from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines (A.A.C. & S.M.) to the University of Alaska. When William R. Wood became the university’s president in 1960, he divided the academic departments of the university into six select colleges: Arts and Letters; Behavioral Sciences and Education; Biological Sciences and Renewable Resources; Business, Economics, and Government; Earth Sciences and Mineral Industry; and Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering. From that point on, the both the university’s student population and research mission grew tremendously. Then, with the appointment of Chancellor Cutler in 1975, the University of Alaska became the University of Alaska Fairbanks; it was, and still is, the primary research unit of the statewide university system.[5]

The two other primary UA institutions are the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

Significant events[edit]

The Alaska Constitutional Convention was held in the freshly constructed Student Union Building on the Fairbanks campus from November 1955 to February 1956. While the convention progressed, the building became known as Constitution Hall, where the fifty-five delegates drafted the legal foundation of the 49th state. The campus’ old library and gymnasium was renamed Signers’ Hall after the Alaska Constitution was signed there in February 1956.[6]


University rankings
Forbes[8] 326[7]
U.S. News & World Report[9] NR
Washington Monthly[10] 204

Schools and colleges[edit]

UAF has nine academic schools and colleges:

  • College of Engineering and Mines
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Natural Science and Mathematics
  • College of Rural and Community Development
  • School of Education
  • School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
  • School of Management
  • School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences
  • Graduate School

Students can choose from more than 160 degrees and 31 certificates in more than 120 disciplines.


  • Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
    • The Alaska Film Archives, housed in the Alaska and Polar Regions section of the Rasmuson Library, hold the largest collection of film-related material about Alaska.
    • BioSciences Library (physically housed in the Institute of Arctic Biology, but administratively part of the Rasmuson Library)
  • Keith B. Mather Library (housed in the International Arctic Research Center)

Research units[edit]

UAF is Alaska's primary research university, conducting over 90% of all the research done throughout the UA system. Research activities are organized into several institutes and centers:

Other campuses of UAF[edit]

In addition to the main camp of UAF in Fairbanks, there are four smaller campus in other towns of Alaska. These are: Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham AK, Chukchi Campus in Kotzebue AK, Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel AK, Northwest Campus in Nome AK.


Main article: Alaska Nanooks
Alaska vs. Air Force ice hockey game

University of Alaska Fairbanks sports teams are the Alaska Nanooks, with the word Nanook derived from the Inupiaq "nanuq." Though often known as UAF within the state, the university prefers to be called simply "Alaska" for athletics purposes. The school colors are blue and gold. The Alaska Nanooks compete at the NCAA Division I level for hockey as a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Nanooks play their home games at the 4,500 seat Carlson Center located in downtown Fairbanks. The Alaska Nanooks also have a Division I rifle team which has won ten NCAA National Rifle Championships (1994, 1999–2004, 2006–2008). The men's and women's basketball, cross country running, and women's volleyball teams are Division II members of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, while the women's swim team is a member of the Pacific Collegiate Swimming Conference (PCSC) and the men's and women's Nordic skiing teams are members of the Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA). Partly due to its isolation from the lower 48 and lack of a dome to protect against the harsh elements, Alaska does not currently have a football program, as is true for all three branches of the University of Alaska.

The Nanook hockey team has gained fame with the increased popularity of their introduction videos, which feature a mascot known nationally as "Hockeybear," who engages in over-the-top antics such as destroying planets, moons, galaxies and even rival cities such as Anchorage or Columbus, OH. Hockeybear then ends his destruction when he arrives at the Carlson Center, usually entering through the roof after tearing off a large section. Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" is featured prominently.

Since the UAF athletics program was operating at a financial deficit for several years prior, a new student fee was initiated in 2008 to keep the program alive. This fee charges UAF students $8 per credit hour they are enrolled in, up to a maximum of $96 per semester. The fee grants students free admission to select UAF athletic events.

In fiscal year 2009-10, the department was able to meet financial obligations without additional year-end funding for the first time.

The department has increased scholarships for women by 95 percent since 2005, and was even recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education for Title IX compliance in an article titled "Turnaround Stories."


There are several book publishers at UAF, including the University of Alaska Press, the Alaska Native Language Center, Alaska Sea Grant, the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Cooperative Extension Service, and the Alaska Native Knowledge Network. The University of Alaska Foundation also publishes books.

Magazines include Aurora,[11] a twice-annual produced by Marketing and Communications; Frontiers,[12] a twice-annual produced by the Center for Research Services; Agroborealis,[13] a twice-annual produced by the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences; Challenges in Science and Engineering,[14] an annual produced by the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center; Ice Box,[15] the UAF student literary magazine; and Permafrost,[16] the UAF English department's literary magazine. The alumni newsletter, a twice-annual publication, is the Alumnus.

The student newspaper is the Sun Star,[17] formed after a merger of the Polar Star, an independent student paper, and the Northern Sun, the journalism department's student newspaper.


The university hosts a Fine Arts complex, one room of which is named after long-time local chorister Eva McGown. The art department has a gallery, the UAF Art Gallery, which is used for student art shows, BFA and MFA thesis shows, and (occasionally) combined faculty shows. The complex includes two theatres, the Charles W. Davis Concert Hall and the Lee Salisbury Theatre. UAF offers an extensive Native Arts program, directed by Da-ka-xeen Mehner.[18]

UAF also offers an MFA degree in creative writing. The creative writing program is run by the English Department,[19] and offers courses in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing. Currently, faculty include Gerri Brightwell and Kyle Mellen (fiction), Derick Burleson and Sean Hill (poetry), Daryl Farmer (creative nonfiction), and Len Kamerling (film/dramatic writing).[20]

Notable faculty and alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Davis, Neil (1992, p. 39) The College Hill Chronicles: how the University of Alaska came of Age. Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Foundation.
  3. ^ Cole, Terrence (1994, p. 6) The Cornerstone on College Hill: an Illustrated History of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press.
  4. ^ Cole, Terrence (1994, p. 7, 37 - 40) The Cornerstone on College Hill: an Illustrated History of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press
  5. ^ Cole, Terrence (1994, p. 55, 206 - 208) The Cornerstone on College Hill: an Illustrated History of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press.
  6. ^ Cole, Terrence (1994, p. 152 - 154) The Cornerstone on College Hill: an Illustrated History of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "America's Top Colleges". LLC™. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Best Colleges". U.S. News & World Report LP. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ "About the Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  11. ^ Aurora official site
  12. ^ Frontiers official site
  13. ^ Agroborealis official site
  14. ^ Challenges official site
  15. ^ Ice Box official site
  16. ^ Permafrost official site
  17. ^ Sun Star official site
  18. ^ Art Department | Native Art Center. (2013-05-15). Retrieved on 2013-08-02.
  19. ^ Department of English | index.xml. Retrieved on 2013-08-02.
  20. ^

External links[edit]