The first Summer Sessions at the University of Alaska was held in 1947, primarily for the benefit of teachers in the Territory of Alaska who wished to renew teaching certificates or complete studies for the baccalaureate degree. No classes were held in 1948 or 1949 but Summer Session resumed in 1950 and has continued since.
In the 1951 Summer Session catalog for the University of Alaska, William Cashen was Director of Summer Session, Dean of Men, and Associate Professor of Mathematics. This eight-page publication offering one six-week session, listed the charge of $25 for 1-3 semester credits. Eight regular faculty and four visiting faculty offered 31 courses, most for 2 credits each. Courses included Anth. 372s Cold Lands, Biol. 131s Botany, Engl. 445s Literature of Ancient Greece, and Mus. 211s Public School Music.
Fast forward to 1981, and find a 36-page catalog for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Summer Sessions announcing 76 courses offered in two sessions taught by 56 faculty. A variety of short courses, workshops and special programs were available such as Workshop on Alaska and Alaska Gold. Courses offered were typically 3 credits including BIOL 493 Field Biology, ED 493 Instructional Telecommunications for Alaska, PS 493 Alaska State and Local Governments.
2011 was the last year a print catalog was published by UAF Summer Sessions & Lifelong Learning. The bright orange under the die cut sunburst highlighted the new Summer@UAF logo. The 70 page catalog featured over 250 courses taught by 154 faculty as well as announcing weekly evening lectures, family cultural nights, free movies, distinguished guest speakers, multiple concerts and an on-campus production by NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. Summer Sessions had become a busy time on the UAF campus.
UAF Summer Sessions has a reputation for creativity and innovation. For over ten years, the Summer Sessions catalog covers featured artwork by UAF student artists and their instructors. The list of 'firsts' is long and includes the first open registration, first use of credit cards on campus, first online catalog, first online registration, first shopping cart for courses, first Really Free Market, first use of large decals on buses and buildings for advertising, and the list goes on.
In 2006, out of state tuition was eliminated during summer, increasing the number of out of state students who study at UAF in the summer. 2007 saw the addition of MAYmester, a two-week compressed session during the last two weeks of May during which students could earn up to three credits. This expansion allowed students to either complete a summer course before leaving campus after spring semester or to complete up to 17 credits in summer. This was followed in 2009 by the addition of WINTERmester, another compressed session taking place immediately before the start of spring semester.
In 2008 the unit name was changed to Summer Sessions & Lifelong Learning. This acknowledged the expanded programming coming from this unit. One such addition was the winter Educational Cultural Tours. These programs began in 2005 and have included travel to Viet Nam, Tanzania including Zanzibar, Peru, Portugal, Turkey, Ecuador and three trips to China.
Financial aid options have been expanded including tuition awards for graduate and undergraduates, assistance finding summer employment on campus, scholarships and the Sweet Summer Deal.