Dr. Cary and Sarah Keller


By Katie Straub

Sarah and Dr. Cary Keller. Photo provided by Dr. Keller.
Sarah and Dr. Cary Keller. Photo provided by Dr. Keller.

When you think of the folks who have championed UAF, Dr. Cary Keller and Sarah Keller ’90 are top of mind. For more than 30 years, they have attended athletic events, advocated for the university and invested their time and money to ensure the quality of its programs.

In fact, during the same week they challenged KUAC-FM listeners with a $50,000 donation, the Kellers helped to kick off UA Giving Day with two challenges: a $50,000 gift to UAF Athletics and another $50,000 to the UA Southeast-administered Alaska College of Education Support Fund.

Dr. Keller credits the university’s steadfast commitment to its students and community for inspiring these gifts.

“With Chancellor White trying so hard to turn around momentum, the moment was right for meaningful philanthropy from individuals and corporations to symbolize the turning of that psychological tide,” he said.

Keller said this is not the time to be discouraged about the university, the town of Fairbanks or the state of Alaska. Rather, it’s an opportunity for Alaskans to come together in support of the university both philanthropically and politically.

The last few years have challenged Alaska’s economy and led to decreased state funding. Keller believes many people were wishing for a way to help, leading to the overwhelming success of the first UA Giving Day.

“The more people who made gifts and offered challenges, the more we realized that there are a lot of other people out there who felt just as committed to the university as we are,” he said. “There was a sort of a pent-up desire to be helpful and positive.”

As the primary sports physician for UAF, Keller has witnessed how tighter budgets affect student athletes. His UA Giving Day contribution to UAF athletics demonstrates his unwavering commitment to its programs.

“Let there be no doubt that the university and the community fully support UAF athletes and their teams,” he said. “They can count on that during these difficult times of COVID-19, and they can count on it to continue when we are back to more routine schedules.”

Both Kellers feel a very strong sense of community in Fairbanks, and they wanted to give gifts that would help maintain that relationship. They hope their donations will continue to inspire others and help further strengthen the bond between the university and community.

“The exciting thing is that so many people were so generous on Giving Day and that together we accomplished so much to help the university and strengthen Fairbanks,” Keller said. “We’re looking forward to making it even better next year.”