The University of Alaska Fairbanks (also referred to as UAF or Alaska) is a public research university in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States. It is a 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 and opened for classes in 1922. UAF was originally named Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines and later as the University of Alaska from 1925 to 1975.
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 (320 km) south of the Arctic Circle, the Fairbanks campus' unique location is situated favorably for arctic and northern research. The campus' several lines of research are renowned worldwide, most notably arctic biology, arctic engineering, geophysics, supercomputing and Native 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 eLearning and Distance Education, an independent learning and distance delivery program.
In fall 2016, UAF enrolled 10,490 students. Of those students, 57% were female and 42.4% were male; 87.6% were undergraduates, and 12.4% were graduate students. As of May 2017, 1,421 students had graduated during the immediately preceding summer, fall and spring semesters.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks 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 in 1906. The station set the tone for the strongly research-oriented university that developed later.
In the spring of 1915, the U.S. Congress approved 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 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, because 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.
Four months after Congress approved the legislation for the campus land in 1915, a cornerstone for the college was laid by Territorial Delegate James Wickersham on a bluff overlooking the lower Chena River valley. The ridge, which the indigenous Athabaskan people called Troth Yeddha', 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 16 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.
In 1935, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill that officially changed the name of the college 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, both the university’s student population and research mission grew tremendously. Then, with the appointment of Chancellor Howard A. 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.
The two other primary UA institutions are the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.
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 55 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.
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UAF has nine academic schools and colleges:
There are 190 different degree and certificate programs available in more than 120 disciplines.
The UAF Honors Program was created in 1983 and provides additional opportunities for students to prepare for professional school admission. Students complete core curriculum courses for their degrees in the Honors Program, maintain at least a 3.25 grade-point average in all courses, and complete a thesis project.
UAF is Alaska's primary research university, conducting more than 90% of UA system research. Research activities are organized into several institutes and centers:
UAF has several student residence halls on both lower and middle campus. Housing is offered year-round. All halls are smoke-free. Each hall has a kitchen, laundry facility, exterior door hall access system and maintenance services. The halls vary from each other slightly to suit different preferences of the student population. Additional housing locations on campus are only available to graduates, families, employees and non-traditional students.
The Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (ASUAF) is the representative group for the students attending UAF.
Each student enrolled in three or more in-person credit-hours pays a $42 student government fee for the fall and spring semesters; this money funds ASUAF. The income is divided among the student government, KSUA Radio, the concert board and a student-run newspaper called The Sun Star.
ASUAF holds general elections every November and April. As per the ASUAF Constitution, there is a president, a vice president and no more than 14 senators, all of whom must be in good academic standing (2.0+ CGPA). Senators, the president and the vice president have terms of one full academic year. The Senate meets at 4 p.m. every Sunday during the fall and spring semesters.
University of Alaska Fairbanks sports teams are the Alaska Nanooks, with the word Nanook derived from the Inupiaq word for "polar bear." 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 in hockey as a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Nanooks play 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 10 NCAA National Rifle Championships (1994, 1999–2004, 2006–2008). The rifle team is a member of the Patriot Rifle Conference. 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). The men's basketball team, women's basketball team, and women's volleyball team play home games in the 1,622-seat Patty Center. Due to its isolation from the Lower 48 and the lack of a dome to protect against the harsh elements, Alaska does not 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, a new student fee was initiated in 2008. 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. Effective 2014, the fee increased to $10 per credit hour, up to a maximum of $120 per semester.
In fiscal year 2010, 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% since 2005, and was 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.
The Fine Arts Complex hosts the Charles Davis Concert Hall, the Lee H. Salisbury Theatre and the Eva McGowan Music Room. The building is also home to the UAF Art Gallery, which is used for student art shows, thesis shows and faculty shows. The Art Department offers MFA, BFA, and BA degree programs in painting, photography, Native art and a variety of other artistic disciplines.
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