Beginning over 50 years ago as the legislatively mandated Institute of Marine Science, the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences was created in 1987 to unify the many statewide academic and research programs in fisheries and ocean sciences across the University of Alaska system. The School developed into a regional and world-class research center, built strong graduate and undergraduate education programs and provided outstanding service to the State and the nation. While it has a strong focus on Arctic issues, faculty and students work worldwide, from Antarctica to Greenland and from coastal to deep ocean regions.
Building on that momentum, the transformation to the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (CFOS) in 2016 was the result of our growing student body and expansion of degree programs; the number of faculty, researchers and staff; our major funded research programs; and the national responsibility of operating the global class research vessel Sikuliaq.
The new College operating structure consists of departments, chairs and an organized research unit, the Institute of Marine Science. This structure streamlines internal operations and reduces costs, while emphasizing our combined academic and research strengths, competitiveness, and global leadership in addressing the most pressing issues in fisheries, marine science, and changes in the Arctic. The College has grown to be one of the largest and most geographically diverse academic and research organizations in the State of Alaska. From Nome to Ketchikan and Fairbanks to Unalaska, our footprint includes a dozen locations serving students, local communities and the fishing industry throughout Alaska and the nation.
Major historical events for the College since its creation include the building of the Lena Point Fisheries Facility to support faculty and students in Juneau, the alliance with the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward for research on marine fish, birds and mammals, the major enhancements of the Fisheries Undergraduate Program, and massive support for distance teaching through high-bandwidth audio-video systems throughout CFOS. The effort to design, build, fund and operate the Sikuliaq required over 40 years of dedicated time from faculty, administration and supporters.
With more than 650 total PhD, Masters and undergraduates from 1987 to 2016, the College has had a major impact on our past students who now are deeply involved in other academic, agency, education and nonprofit organizations around the world.
The new College is well positioned to deliver continued excellence in freshwater and ocean science instruction, research and service well into the future.