Friday Focus: The beat goes on!

University of Alaska Fairbanks students attend a summer class outdoors on the Troth Yeddha' campus.
University of Alaska Fairbanks students attend a summer class outdoors on the Troth Yeddha' campus.

May 5, 2023

— By Owen Guthrie, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management

For many, tomorrow marks the end of the term and the end of the academic year. The end is upon us! It is a huge relief. Commencement is tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the Carlson Center. If you usually go, I will see you there. If you don’t usually attend, I encourage you to go. The event and ceremony provide a moment of clarity for the meaning of our collective endeavor like few others. It is a wonderful and affirming way to finish the year.

At the same time, for many here at UAF, this weekend marks the beginning of summer as much or even more than the end of the spring semester. It marks the beginning of a whole new and different season of our efforts.

If this resonates with your plans for the weeks ahead, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work that will take place this summer at UAF. Our campuses will be alive with activity. Faculty, staff, and students alike will continue to push the boundaries of knowledge through their research and scholarly endeavors. Even now, some of our best and brightest are mobilizing for transformative experiences across Alaska and around the world. For example, a group of students in the Climate Scholars Program will float the Yukon River from Eagle to Circle by canoe with UAF faculty and noted author, Bathsheba Demuth, an environmental historian at Brown University.

On our campuses, we will host a range of summer programs and camps that inspire and educate our communities’ next generation of leaders. Here, on Troth Yeddha’, Residence Life will host all kinds of visitors including BLM firefighters (unless there are no fires!), Youth Opera of El Paso, Suzuki Institute, Cary Institute, Goldpanners visiting teams, Royal Air Force out of United Kingdom, Santa Ana College, visiting Toolik researchers, Fukuyama City University, Northern Kentucky University, Michigan State University, visiting student interns and researchers, Girls on Ice, Northern Arizona University, and both police and firefighter academies, just to name a few. We will also host a series of bridge programs that help Alaska’s high school students on their journey to college. These include programs like Rural Alaska Honors Institute, Upward Bound, Nanook Next, Emerging Scholars Academy and Emerging Scholars STEM Academy.

Attendees enjoy a Music in the Garden concert in the Georgeson Botanical Garden located on the Troth Yeddha' campus in Fairbanks.
Attendees enjoy a Music in the Garden concert in the Georgeson Botanical Garden located on the Troth Yeddha' campus in Fairbanks.

In Fairbanks, Summer Sessions will, of course, be everywhere, doing everything - as usual. The Center for Student Engagement will be doing ice cream Thursdays. Food trucks will again return to campus. So far, we are working with Early Bird (loaded fries and burgers) and Fireweed Bites (grilled cheese). Check here for an updated schedule in a week or two - they will be here soon! Nanook Recreation’s summer will be packed. Both the Patty Pool and Patty Ice are closed until mid-June for annual maintenance. Outdoor Adventures and CTC still have space in a few transformative experience classes; Paddling the Yukon, Expedition Kayaking, Brooks Range Backpacking, and Expedition Rock Climbing. For your kids, there are rock climbing camps with Summer Sessions and a bunch of youth sports performance training programs!

It does not end! The excellent people at the Animal Resources Center will be caring for our animals, both indoors and out, both large and small. Design & Construction and the Facilities Services teams have an amazing list of about 30 ambitious summer projects they will be jumping into. Our Finance teams will bring the year to a close and start FY24. Our advising teams, especially First Year Advising, will be working to get students advised and placed in classes for fall. Our awesome eCampus team will be busy supporting students in nearly 250 summer online courses and helping faculty convert the last of our Blackboard courses to Canvas!

There is so much amazing work going on - and this is just the tip of the iceberg for the weeks and months ahead!

I am awed by the hard work and dedication of everyone during this short, busy season we call summer in Alaska. Your commitment to excellence and to making UAF better for the future is truly inspiring. Thank you!

Here’s to you, to your work, and to our magical Alaskan summer!

Friday Focus is a column written by a different member of UAF's leadership team every week.