Friday Focus: Looking forward

April 28, 2023

– By Dan White, chancellor

portrait of Dan White
UAF photo by Eric Engman
Chancellor Dan White

In a recent meeting, a member of my leadership team mentioned that April always feels like a sprint to the finish line. I am sure many of you, especially students and faculty who are wrapping up your final exams, can relate to that metaphor. However, for me, it feels like the race has just begun. There are so many exciting things to look forward to in the coming months and years. The excitement of commencement and the end of the semester feel like another step in a longer journey of transformation and growth at UAF. 

As spring (finally) returns to Fairbanks, I am enjoying watching our campus change as the snow melts and I see more students, staff and faculty outside. As I walk around campus, I can’t help but imagine what our campus will look like in 10, 20, 30 years. So much has changed since I started at UAF in 1995, and we are at an exciting tipping point in shaping our campus and transforming the student experience for the coming years. 

For example, a couple of weeks ago I met with an engaged group of community members to discuss building a new athletics arena on the UAF Troth Yeddha’ campus. The community vision for this facility includes a new ice arena, which will provide opportunities for recreational and competitive ice sports for the local sports community. This will also mean that one day soon, we will be able to cheer on our Division I Nanook hockey team right here on campus. This community-led initiative has the potential to transform our Nanook athletics programs and change our campus and our community for decades to come. 

In addition, within the next couple of years, students, researchers and community members from around the state and the country will come to UAF to gather in the one-of-a-kind Troth Yeddha’ Indigenous Studies Center. Everyone who drives to our campus will see this breathtaking tribute that affirms Alaska Native culture and contributions across Alaska situated on Troth Yeddha’, a traditional place of gathering for the Lower Tanana people. The legacy of this place of belonging will impact generations of students and solidify the University of Alaska as a global leader in Alaska Native and Indigenous Studies. 

Last month, I sent out an update about UAF’s progress towards achieving R1 research status, one of our six strategic goals. UAF is already producing top tier research and by attaining R1 status, we will increase our capacity to attract new talent to the state, support emerging industries such as drones and mariculture, and increase the value of a degree from UAF. UAF research helps shape our understanding of the world, and I know that an investment in our research has the power to transform our university and Alaska’s economy.

Next week, I look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of students at UAF’s 101st Commencement Ceremony. I am proud of all of the students receiving their degree and appreciative of the staff and faculty who have supported them along the way. 

There is much to celebrate and much to look forward to. The future of UAF is a vibrant and transformative place to be. 

Thanks for choosing UAF.