Alaska's biologically and ecologically sustainable fisheries, the rate of climate change in Alaska, the health of our economy, and traditional subsistence communities require that we train and educate scientists and managers with a wide range of knowledge and experience to confront these challenges.
To provide top-notch education and begin to address these challenges, the Rasmuson Foundation provided a six-year, $5 million grant to the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in January 2007. The goal of this initiative was to educate the professionals necessary to guarantee the sustainability of Alaska's vast and healthy marine and freshwater resources. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska State Legislature provided matching funds ($4 million) for this endeavor, with the legislature agreeing to provide $1 million annually to support the program following the conclusion of the grant.
This grant of historical proportions from the Rasmuson Foundation contributed to a new Bachelor of Arts in Fisheries and a revised Bachelor of Sciences in Fisheries as well as a new minor in Fisheries. A new, hands-on experiential learning feature is included in these programs. In addition, there is broad geographic availability for the programs, including distance-delivered classes. Scholarships and financial aid are offered for these programs and there are several fisheries faculty members who serve as advisors to students.
As a result of this generous grant, the numbers of undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Sciences and the Bachelor of Arts program have both increased, and more than 50 students have graduated with a Fisheries degree.
We thank the Rasmuson Foundation for believing in our school and helping us to provide a well-respected Fisheries program. Deputy Commissioner of ADF&G Charlie Swanton said, “The university (with financial support from the Rasmuson Foundation) effectively rebuilt the undergraduate fisheries program into its current highly regarded state. As the current fiscal climate dictates for all state entities, collaborative and cooperative work is the successful pathway for our future.”