University of Alaska Fairbanks

1996-1997 catalog


The University of Alaska Fairbanks Experience

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Experience

In 1917, just 15 years after Felix Pedro found gold in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, the University of Alaska Fairbanks was born. It wasn't called UAF back then; it was the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, created by a special act of the Alaska Territorial Legislature. In 1922 the college opened, with six faculty members and six students. A year later, commencement was held, in honor of the school's first graduate.

As Alaska grew, so did the institution. In 1931, the Agricultural Experiment Station (established in 1906 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a site that was later to become part of the campus) was transferred from federal ownership to the college. This action established the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and its experiment farm as a unit of the college in line with agricultural experiment stations in other land-grant universities. In 1935, the Territorial Congress decided the school had graduated from a college to something more, and the 'University of Alaska' was born.

World War II brought many changes to Alaska. Battles were fought on Alaska soil, the Alaska Highway was built, and the activity spawned the first major migration of people into the state since the gold rush. As people moved to Alaska, so did money, ideas and energy.

In 1946, the Geophysical Institute was established by the U.S. Congress. GI has since earned an international reputation for its studies of the earth and the physical environment at high latitudes. It also operates the Poker Flat Research Range, the only university-owned rocket range in the world.

In 1947, the first summer session was held at the university, symbolizing its growth into a year-round center for knowledge. Ten years later, the university awarded its first Ph.D. All this at the University of Alaska, when Alaska itself had yet to become a state.

Statehood changed the political system for the people who inhabited the vast land mass and waterways known as Alaska. Alaska's constitution was hammered out in what's now Constitution Hall on the UAF campus, and the document was signed, fittingly enough, in stately Signers' Hall, now the home of the UAF administration. Alaska's admission into the Union in 1959 also coincided with major changes at the university itself.

In 1960, the Institute of Marine Science, a unit of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, was established by the Alaska Legislature. Its offices are on the main UAF campus, with its principal shore facility in Seward. The Seward Marine Center is also the home port of the R/V Alpha Helix, a 133-foot research vessel operated by IMS for the National Science Foundation.

Three years later, the Alaska Legislature created the Institute of Arctic Biology. IAB manages the Large Animal Research Station just north of campus, the home of musk oxen, caribou and reindeer.

As the Fairbanks campus expanded, so did the educational needs of the rest of the state. In 1975, the University of Alaska statewide system was created. Campuses in Anchorage and Juneau were given their own central staff and chancellor, with the statewide administration, and the overall university president, still located in Fairbanks. This period of consolidation coincided with rapid expansion and improvement at the university's main campus in Fairbanks.

The University of Alaska Museum, one of the most popular visitor attractions in the state, moved into the Otto Geist Building in 1980. More than 124,000 people visit the museum every year, each soaking in just a small portion of the substantial collections organized and displayed at the museum.

In 1981, enrollment topped 5,000 students for the first time. The university also began to emphasize its shared scholarship and global education effort in a series of agreements signed with schools in Japan, Denmark, Canada, the People's Republic of China and Russia.

Today, UAF continues to grow, both in size and stature. In addition to the main campus in Fairbanks, UAF has branch campuses in Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue, Nome and the Interior. UAF provides an important resource to rural Alaskans with its education centers in Fort Yukon, McGrath, Nenana, Tok and Unalaska.

UAF's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences combines programs in Juneau and Kodiak with those in Fairbanks, and administers the Alaska Sea Grant College Program and the Marine Advisory Program.

Public service is an important part of UAF's mission. The statewide Alaska Cooperative Extension, with 10 field offices, is headquartered at UAF. UAF's public broadcasting stations KUAC-FM and -TV were the first public stations in the state; the stations offer an important resource for students who can get hands-on experience at the facilities.

UAF is the state's land-, sea- and space-grant institution. Its rural college has the primary responsibility for Alaska Native education and study, and UAF remains the only university offering doctoral degrees in Alaska. UAF's colleges and schools offer more than 70 fields of study, and a wide variety of technical and vocational programs.

UAF offers graduate degrees in a wide range of academic disciplines. The expertise of UAF scientists and scholars is anchored along the northern edge of the Pacific Rim and extends around the circumpolar north. UAF maintains a standing among the top 100 universities in the country in terms of total expenditures for research.

UAF is the only doctoral-granting institution in the state, and doctoral programs are offered in the areas of anthropology, atmospheric sciences, biochemistry/molecular biology, biological sciences (options in botany, wildlife biology and zoology), fisheries, geology, geophysics, mathematics, oceanography, physics and space physics. Master's degrees are offered in over 50 fields: in the humanities, social sciences, northern studies, computer science, physical and natural sciences, and in professional fields such as engineering, education, and business administration. Interdisciplinary programs are possible for students who have a research focus in areas in which UAF has faculty expertise and research facilities.

As it expands the frontiers of knowledge, UAF will continue to play a major role in making Alaska, and the world, a better place to live, to learn and to prosper.


UAF students aren't afraid to be different. The University of Alaska Fairbanks isn't the right school for everyone, but if it is for you, you can take advantage of small classes, first-rate faculty and access to hands-on research-not to mention some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.

UAF's students come from 50 states and 47 foreign countries, which can make for an exciting educational environment. A freshman from an Alaska village may share insights with a classmate from Tallahassee or even Tokyo in one year, and take advantage of a UAF exchange program located in Canada, Denmark or Japan the next.

As a UAF student, you won't be bored. There are more than 70 student organizations, and students sponsor the weekly Sun Star newspaper, KSUA-FM radio station and scores of special interest groups.

No matter which UAF campus you attend, your credits are fully transferable if you should move to another. This means that you won't have to worry about transfer requests and losing credits if you switch campuses.

UAF's enrollment in the fall of 1995 was 9,104 students. Many of UAF's students are 'non-traditional.' They study at night or after work, and juggle family responsibilities and class studies. Recognizing their needs, UAF offers a wide variety of night and weekend classes.

Some UAF students live in remote areas of the state, but they still 'attend' UAF classes. Through distance delivery of classes, using computers, telephones and the latest technology, students can work toward their degrees without ever leaving home.

In short, being 'different' is almost normal at UAF. All in all, UAF students are a diverse group who aren't afraid to be different.

If you're interested in statistics, here are a few about UAF's student body:

  • 57 percent are female, 43 percent are male
  • 25 is the average age of full-time students
  • 86 percent are Alaska residents, 11 percent are from other states, 3 percent are from foreign countries
  • 91 percent are undergraduate students, 9 percent are graduate students


UAF's faculty members are among the best in the country, and with a low student/faculty ratio, you'll get lots of personal attention. You'll get more one-on-one attention, in fact, than you would at almost any other public university in the country.

Once you've chosen a major, you'll be assigned a faculty member from your academic department as an adviser. Your adviser can help you choose the classes you take each semester, as well as explain various programs and requirements.

It's been said that 'It's not what you know, but who you know.' At UAF, students get to know their faculty as friends, and not just as the medium through which an endless stream of facts and figures are delivered for future examination.

Education is an individual process, different for every person-and at UAF, that's what you'll be-a person, and not just a face in the crowd.

UAF Mission Statement

The University of Alaska Fairbanks was established in 1917 as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. Today, as a comprehensive land grant and sea grant university, the multi-campus University of Alaska Fairbanks exists as a vital state resource to teach, to inquire and to serve.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers instructional programs covering a broad postsecondary spectrum and is the major research center for Alaska. The university is committed to providing a free and open forum where ideas and issues may be professionally pursued and frankly debated in an environment of mutual respect and intellectual integrity. It seeks to provide an intellectually stimulating learning process which is culturally sensitive and empowering to its students. The university is committed to assuring that its graduates receive a balanced education in the arts, humanities, natural and social sciences through which creativity is fostered and historical and philosophic perspectives are gained. As a result, the state benefits from an educated citizenry capable of the independent pursuit of further learning, of contributing to the economic well being of the state and nation and of participating in and contributing to global society. The university seeks a culturally diverse environment that values and promotes equal treatment of sexes, races, cultural and ethnic groups throughout its academic programs, student body, faculty and staff.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks as a residential institution of higher education serves students from all of Alaska as well as from other states and nations. It is particularly committed to enhancing educational opportunities for Alaska's rural and native populations. Through its branch campuses in Bethel, Kotzebue and Nome and its rural education centers, the university is responsive to local and regional needs, including open educational access to its programs. Special strengths exist in the use of educational technology which provide for the distance delivery of selected programs to many areas of the state. In seeking to serve a broad array of students, admission to several associate degree and certificate programs is open to all. Admission requirements to all baccalaureate and graduate programs as well as some Associate of Applied Science degree programs vary depending on the specific field of study.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers developmental programs and certificate, associate, baccalaureate and graduate/professional programs in the arts, sciences, career fields and professions. It is a center for graduate education and is Alaska's only doctoral-granting institution. It possesses unique strengths in the physical and natural sciences and offers a broad array of engineering programs with a particular emphasis on the stresses of northern environments. UAF is a major center for the study of natural resources including minerals, forestry, wildlife, geology, agriculture, fisheries and ocean sciences and their associated economics. It has been recognized for its work in multi-cultural understanding, rural health problems, and cross-cultural interaction in the human service professions.

As a major center for research and scholarship, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is committed to the mutual enhancement of teaching and research and creative activity, and public service. Scholarship which produces new knowledge instills a vigor into teaching which in turn stimulates inquiry and the quest for further answers to the unknown. The university seeks to use its particular location in the north as a natural laboratory for the study of questions and issues, whose solutions are not only applicable to Alaskan problems but to a broader understanding of our global community. As part of a network of state research universities, this institution has an active program of basic and applied research resulting in a well earned national and international reputation. Specific recognition has been achieved in space physics, marine science, and high latitude biology, environmental sciences, engineering and geophysics. The university has recognized programs in definition, exploration, development and management of Alaska's renewable and non-renewable resources. It is the state's center for study of Alaskan native cultures and languages.

Through its Cooperative Extension Service and Marine Advisory Programs, research results are interpreted and transferred to people of the state. Its continuing education programs extend the expertise of the university to adult learners needing alternative learning opportunities. The university's library and museum provide the state's major information resources and cultural collections with a particular strength in Alaska and polar regions. Finally, through its programs in fine and performing arts, the university provides cultural enrichment to the state's Interior-Aleutians and rural populations. In accomplishing this mission, the university seeks the advice and guidance of Alaska's residents and friends.

Board of Regents Policy 10.020.01, adopted 02-25-88

Since the mission statement was adopted, UAF has added the Bristol Bay and Interior-Aleutians Campus sites. UAF was granted space grant status in 1991.

Main Campus in Fairbanks

UAF's main campus is located in Fairbanks, which is near the center of the state. On the 2,250-acre campus are two lakes and 35 miles of ski trails.

If you're interested in fitness, the main campus has a major intramural sports program, and the Student Recreation Complex offers areas for basketball, volleyball, badminton, tennis, calisthenics, dance, gymnastics, judo and karate; a rifle and pistol range; courts for handball, racquetball and squash; a jogging track; a swimming pool; weight training and modern fitness equipment areas; an ice arena for recreational skating and hockey; a special aerobics area; and a climbing wall.

Whether you like to play or just watch, UAF sponsors intercollegiate athletics teams in men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross-country running and skiing, co-ed riflery, men's ice hockey and women's volleyball.

As a UAF student on the main campus, you'll become very familiar with the Wood Center. The center is the focus of many of UAF's out-of-class activities. With a pub, snack bar, conference rooms, lounge and games area, Wood Center is a gathering place for the entire university community.

You'll find some of the best facilities in the state at UAF. Whether you're a performer or a spectator, you'll find something to suit your taste going on almost every weekend during the academic year at the Davis Concert Hall or the Salisbury Theater. The Rasmuson Library is Alaska's largest, and offers traditional ways to access library materials, as well as extensive computer databases to extend the library resources beyond the state. Aside from being among the top 10 visitor attractions in the state, the UA Museum is also a student resource; its vast collections are used for demonstration and comparative studies in classrooms and labs.

The Fairbanks campus is the university's principal research center, with internationally respected research institutes. As an undergraduate, these institutes provide you with an opportunity to see research in action, and perhaps participate in research activities.

Branch Campuses

When the University of Alaska system was restructured in 1987, UAF's instructional, research and public service programs were expanded throughout Alaska. In addition to the main campus in Fairbanks, UAF now has branch campuses in downtown Fairbanks, Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue and Nome, and administers a number of education centers through its Interior-Aleutians Campus. These branches serve rural Alaskans and are central to fulfilling the UAF mission of providing educational opportunities throughout the state.

No matter which UAF campus you attend, your credits are fully transferable among all UAF campuses. This means that you won't have to worry about transfer requests and losing credits when you switch campuses.

Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham - The Bristol Bay Campus is administered from Dillingham, with two subregional centers in Naknek and Iliamna. The campus serves 32 villages in an area of approximately 55,000 square miles, with boundaries that stretch south as far as Ivanof Bay, north to Lake Clark and west to Togiak. The campus is located in Dillingham, the region's hub, 322 air miles from Anchorage and 570 air miles from Fairbanks. The average enrollment at Bristol Bay Campus ranges from 250 to 300 students. The campus offers an Associate of Arts degree in general studies and Associate of Applied Science degrees in community health practitioner studies, early childhood education and applied small business, as well as course work in support of the UAF Bachelor of Arts degree in rural development and the Bachelor of Education degree through the Cross-Cultural Educational Development (XCED) Program. In addition, vocational and general interest courses are available. Courses are offered throughout the region by distance delivery, correspondence and itinerant instructors, as well as more traditional methods.

Chukchi Campus in Kotzebue - The Chukchi Campus is located 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on the shores of the Chukchi Sea. The campus serves Kotzebue and 10 villages in a region of more than 36,000 square miles. Chukchi offers the Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees, as well as courses leading to baccalaureate degrees in education, rural development and social work. Courses are offered by local instructors and through the College of Rural Alaska audioconferencing system.

Interior-Aleutians Campus - The Interior-Aleutians Campus in Fairbanks services 54 towns and village within the Doyon region and the Aleutians/Pribilof Islands, an area of approximately 200,000 square miles. The Interior-Aleutians Campus is the most decentralized of the College of Rural Alaska campuses. Although the director's office and some faculty are located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks main campus, there are Interior-Aleutians Campus centers in Fort Yukon, McGrath, Tok and Unalaska. Courses are offered throughout the region via distance delivery, on site by local or itinerant instructors and by correspondence. The campus offers a range of degree programs, including the Associate of Arts and several Associate of Applied Science vocationally oriented degrees, as well as skill-building and community interest classes.

Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel - The Kuskokwim Campus is located in what can most accurately be described as a regional center serving an extended community. Bethel, located 80 miles inland on the Kuskokwim River, is a community of approximately 4,000 and serves as the transportation and service center of the region. Housing is available on campus in Sackett Hall, which provides full-service apartments with space for four students in each.

Northwest Campus in Nome - This campus serves not only the residents of Nome, but also the people in the 15 Eskimo villages surrounding Nome. Northwest offers a general program with courses leading to three baccalaureate degrees: education, social work and rural development, as well as Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees. Vocational and applied courses involve about half the student body.

Tanana Valley Campus in Fairbanks - The Tanana Valley Campus provides general education at the certificate and associate degree levels, as well as vocational/technical training. UAF's Downtown Center in Fairbanks is headquarters for the Tanana Valley Campus. You can take classes at the center which focus on business, computers, office professions and general developmental education. Computer labs and an office lab are also located at the center. The Hutchison Career Center, an integral part of the Tanana Valley Campus, located on Geist Road near the main campus, is the home of several vocational/technical programs. With more than 12,000 square feet of shop, classroom and office areas, the space is organized and equipped for skill development.

Fairbanks Area

Fairbanks, Alaska's second largest city, is situated on the banks of the Chena River in the heart of Alaska. The UAF campus is only four miles from the downtown business district, and the university is easily accessible via the local bus system and a network of bike trails.

Steeped in a history of riverboat captains and gold seekers, today Fairbanks is the dynamic, thriving city that helped build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Here striking contemporary buildings sit side-by-side with log cabins built in the early part of the century. It's a city where the old quietly blends with the new.

With a population of more than 70,000, the Fairbanks area offers the conveniences of a big city, yet rolling hills and spectacular panoramas are only minutes away.

Literally millions of acres of wilderness surround Fairbanks. Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, is often visible from many residence hall windows. Whether the sport is canoeing, climbing, running, skiing or fishing, nowhere else compares with Alaska.

Transportation to Fairbanks

Fairbanks is easily accessible by both land and air. Anchorage is only 365 miles away via the Parks Highway or the Alaska Railroad, and Seattle is 2,300 miles away via the Alaska Highway. Major airlines offer several daily flights to Anchorage and Seattle, as well as to many other destinations.

The Alaska Railroad provides all full-time UAF students with a round trip ticket for the price of a one-way ticket. This rate applies to Summer Session students as well as students attending during the regular sessions of the university. To get this special price, students should ask for the special student rate when they purchase their first ticket. When they get to UAF, students need to have their ticket receipts certified by the Office of Admissions when they pay their fees.