Friday Focus: Advancing university identity

Photo of Samara Taber, executive director of university advancement
UAF photo by JR Ancheta
Executive Director of University Advancement Samara Taber

July 22, 2022

— By Samara Taber, executive director of university advancement

Everything we see matters. It could be a name on a building, a banner on a website or the side of a building, or a story in the local newspaper. I spend a lot of time thinking about how UAF is perceived, how we talk about ourselves and how to tell our stories, while advancing this university and ensuring that UAF is a place of belonging for all students, faculty and staff. 

When I accepted the role of executive director of University Advancement more more than a year ago, I began addressing the strategy for the naming of buildings and spaces at UAF. Naming a UAF building or space enables the university to recognize and honor a significant benefactor. There were layers of complexity to this process and I asked the PIT crew to assist in building a process map and then map our ideal world for naming opportunities at UAF. In the coming months, UAF will have a more innovative process, while providing donors with equitable, consistent and appropriate recognition for their generous support.

Next week we will be announcing the naming of the engineering building after one of UAF’s most generous donors, a person deeply committed to the success of UAF students, faculty and UAF as a whole. We will be hosting a small ceremony to honor this person’s legacy and unveil the new name on Aug. 4 at 4 p.m. Details will be forthcoming in the Cornerstone next week. 

I have also continued to work alongside a talented team on an update to UAF’s visual identity and brand. This undertaking will not completely rebrand the institution. Instead, it will refresh the existing brand with things like new typefaces, design elements and accent colors. As we modernize students’ experience, we also need to modernize the UAF brand and ensure it keeps pace with current marketplace trends. The refreshed design elements are flexible and place-based in nature. Being the flagship, research university in Alaska sets UAF apart. Our brand needs to reflect that.

Part of this project also included sunsetting our ‘Naturally Inspiring’ tagline and exploring ideas for a new tagline. Ultimately, I decided that one tagline isn’t sufficient to reflect the scope and breadth of what the University of Alaska Fairbanks encompasses. Instead, UAF will use phrases and taglines that make sense in the context of that communication or intended message: Alaska’s Research University. America’s Arctic University. You Belong Here. Nanook Nation. All of these things are true. You can find refreshed templates on the University Relations website, along with our new brand guidelines (download pdf). 

Over the summer, you will notice a new look to the visual identity of the UAF Troth Yeddha’ campus. Street banners and signs will be refreshed with updated images and wayfinding language. The three entrance signs will be updated to read: “Welcome to the UAF Troth Yeddha’ Campus.” The team in University Relations has been hustling and UAF graphic designer Kari Halverson has been hard at work bringing the refreshed design elements to life! We removed the Gruening Building banner last week, after almost 10 years, and I am excited to share the new banner with the UAF community. It will welcome students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus in English and in six different Alaska Native languages. Big thanks to Professor Tia Tidwell, Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Native Education chair, department co-chair in the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development for her help with this project. I’d also like to thank the entire Indigenous Signage Committee and Vice Chancellor Charlene Stern for her collaboration with me and UAF Advancement on the brand refresh. I plan to travel to all of our rural campuses this year to help them assess what they need as well.

I am grateful to be in a position to help to elevate this university. I came to UAF over 20 years ago as a first-generation, low-income student from the Lower 48. It was here at UAF that I developed into the adult I would become and found a community that felt right to me. Growing up in a military family, I never felt I had a home base until I settled down in Fairbanks. I am passionate about this place and its people and feel very lucky that I am able to connect donors with our mission, tell our story and ensure future students know how special UAF really is. 

I am listening and invite your voice in this conversation.