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Screenshot of fall 2022 newsletter video from UAF Provost Anupma Prakash

Universitywide Initiatives

#1: Accreditation, Academic Program Review, and Academic Vision

A University of Alaska Fairbanks team recently attended the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities annual meeting and participated in many inspiring sessions on transformative education. The meeting also provided guidance to help us prepare for our mid-cycle report. UAF is currently in the second year of our seven-year accreditation cycle, which means that we will have our mid-cycle site visit on Oct. 2-3, 2023. Our accreditation website has more information about NWCCU, our institutional accreditation, as well as specialized accreditations, certifications and standards held by UAF programs.

Graphic image that shows milestones in years three, six and seven in the accreditation schedule. The year three box reads Mid-Cycle Evaluation: Readiness for Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness with Site Visit Oct. 2-3, 2023 in a yellow outline box. The year six box states Standard Two: Policies, Regulations and Financial Review. The year seven box states Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness with Fall 2027 overlayed in a star.

UAF is currently in the second year of the seven-year accreditation cycle.

The 2022-23 academic program review cycle has begun. There were no reviews during 2021-22 while a team worked on redesigning the process to respond to faculty feedback and more closely align with new NWCCU standards. A summary of the changes can be seen here. It was very gratifying for me to realize that UAF’s new process includes the best practices highlighted at the program review and assessment session at the recent NWCCU meeting. A big thank you to the many faculty and staff who have helped to shape and implement the program review changes.

The UAF deans held an academic planning retreat in September to kick off the process of developing a new academic vision and five-year plan for the university. Four broad goals were identified in this draft plan: 

  • Foster transformative education and excellence

  • Explore pathways to sustainable growth through innovation and development

  • Support research, scholarship and creative work and scholarship

  • Improve processes that impact students, faculty, and staff

Deans have been asked to share the goals with their faculty for an initial round of feedback and the feedback form will also be shared through Cornerstone announcements. A special shout-out to our Vice Provost and Accreditation Liaison Officer, Alex Fitts, for enabling many of these academic efforts.

#2: Student Success Center and North Star College expansion

The sixth floor of the Rasmuson Library is undergoing a transformation into a modern, comprehensive student success center. In this newly renovated space, UAF's wide range of traditional and non-traditional students will be able to obtain comprehensive academic support services as well as on-site help for library resources, all in one welcoming location. The Board of Regents have approved the renovation and the construction is anticipated to take place in 2023. The units and support programs that will be located in the UAF Student Success Center include academic tutoring from multiple disciplines, academic success coaching, first year comprehensive advising, career services, testing services, speaking center, writing center, and math lab. The center will include individual and group study spaces, conference rooms, as well as a lactation and family room. To learn about the changes in the library you can connect with library director Karen Jensen, and for more information on how to engage with the student success center you can connect with Associate Vice Provost for Student Success Jen Tilbury.

In case you missed the exciting news, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and UAF are expanding the North Star College program, an ongoing partnership that allows students to take college courses at UAF while still in high school. Our planning is targeted at accommodating anywhere from 125 to 180 high school juniors and seniors. UAF academic affairs, student affairs, and administrative services are all working together to prepare for this expansion. General information, timelines, how to apply, and answers to FAQs are available at the NSC website. We will continue to share more information through Cornerstone as the work progresses.

Students work in a robotics class

North Star College provides exceptional opportunities for high school
students to gain university experience while still in high school.

#3: Professional Development Opportunities for All

At academic affairs, we established the Faculty Accelerator as the one-stop digital portal to provide information for professional development opportunities. Professional development opportunities are put together by the faculty development team, eCampus, and several other individual units or programs. What is less well understood is that most of these opportunities are open to staff and students, and are not limited to faculty members. Offering world class teaching, research, and service opportunities is only possible with the combined efforts of everyone and as such most professional development workshops, events, and activities are designed broadly for staff and faculty members. If you are looking for specific topics to be covered in these events that UAF is currently not offering, please feel free to reach out to Madara Mason.

Updates from selected units

College of Rural and Community Development: Shine a Light and Solar Energy

The Northwest Campus in Nome, in collaboration with the Department of Equity and Compliance and the Nanook Diversity and Action Center, continues with “Shine a Light” an ongoing speaker series designed to encourage understanding, build empathy, to engage people in thinking critically about worldviews, and to promote conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion. Check out the archive of presentations that include topics such as decolonizing the classroom and trauma-informed practice in education.

The Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham offered a professional certificate to students who completed hands-on solar energy installers class. Through this sustainable energy program lead by Eric Goddard, Mark Masteller and Chandler Kemp, students from the Bristol Bay region as well as statewide educators, scientists, and industry professionals install a 6.1 kW solar electric array that will be used for future training, outreach and research as well as a symbol for the possibilities and future of energy, even in the “hard to reach” places. Since commissioning on May 12, 2022, the array has already produced over 1.6 MWh of power and generated nearly $700 in renewable energy for the campus.

Bristol Bay Campus provides hands-on workforce development opportunities in many areas, including training in harvesting solar energy.

Bristol Bay Campus provides hands-on workforce development opportunities
in many areas, including training in harvesting solar energy. 

Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning

Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning had a busy summer as always. They kicked off the season with the Really Free Market; provided memorable summer experiences for over 500 children in 45 different subject areas; hosted special interest non-credit courses for adults including topics like bird watching, fly-fishing, bike maintenance, bookmaking, photography, and more. They provided our community with 41 free events this summer via the UAF Legacy Lecture, Fairbanks Tall Timbers, Healthy Living, Discover Alaska, and Music in the Garden series. The UAF Legacy Lecture honored distinguished alumnus Steve Frank. Concertgoers filled the Georgeson Botanical Garden on Thursday evenings, and many in Alaska and beyond attended the lectures, either in person or virtually.

Attendees enjoy a Music in the Garden performance offered by Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning.

The greater Fairbanks community enjoys the many programs put together
by UAF Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning.

SSLL’s 365 SMART Academy has positively impacted homeschoolers across the state through more than 140 virtual courses and 12 in-person courses for K-12 students that cover various topics from Minecraft and comics to juggling and rifle! To learn about 365 SMART Academy, or the upcoming non-credit offerings or travel programs to the Netherlands and Greece scheduled for Spring 2023, check out the SSLL website.

School of Education: Educators Affordability Project

The UAF School of Education faculty with years of classroom experience, along with cooperating mentor teachers with current Alaskan district experience, are helping future teachers develop an array of skills needed to support our Pre-K through 12th grade students. SOE is also mobilizing the Alaska Teacher Affordability Project, which provides $500 to $2,000 scholarships to aspiring teachers as they pursue internships in real classroom settings. Preparation under the guidance of an experienced mentor teacher balanced with coursework to unpack pedagogical techniques before entering the gauntlet of first-year teaching has been shown to improve the retention rate of new teachers. Thirty-four interns were offered scholarships for fall 2022, totaling over $50,000 of support. If you happen to know a School of Education student completing their internship, join us in celebrating their work in both local classrooms across the state and in their college coursework as they complete their final step toward becoming certified teachers. 

And, check out this virtual tour of the Future Teacher of Alaska space if you haven’t already seen it in person. The virtual tour also takes you to many other locations at UAF and I hope you enjoy those too!

One final note Registration week:

We are making a big push to help our students register well before leaving for the winter break. All UAF students who register for nine or more credits for spring 2023 before Dec. 10 will be sent a registration gear pack, plus be eligible for some awesome registration week prize drawings such as airline tickets, laptop, iPad, parking passes, and scholarship dollars!! Please share the Registration Week website and spread the word around to all students.

I wish you all a Happy Fall Break and a great time with family and friends.


UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual: www.alaska.edu/nondiscrimination/.