UAF is a multi-campus institution with responsibility for providing a range of programs including public service, research and doctoral programs, liberal and professional undergraduate and graduate education, certificate and associate degree vocational education, and developmental and life-long learning programs - all to traditional as well as non-traditional students. UAF is a separately accredited major academic and administrative unit of the University of Alaska, the state's only publicly supported system of higher education. As such, UAF is expected to not only serve its own urban and rural campuses, but also assist with delivery of programs to other campuses within the university system and, where possible, to off-campus place-bound students through distance delivery methods. The University is committed to having a diverse student body and actively recruits and encourages the enrollment of underrepresented students from local, state, national and international communities.
Bearing in mind its history, current strengths and responsibilities within the university system, UAF adopted the following mission statement in June 2000:
The University of Alaska Fairbanks, as the nation's northernmost Land, Sea, and Space Grant university and international research center, advances and disseminates knowledge through creative teaching, research, and public service with an emphasis on Alaska, the North and their diverse peoples.
In 1993 UAF adopted its first strategic plan, "UAF 2000," under the umbrella of the previous mission statement. The plan provided valuable guidance and set the university's direction through the following years of fiscal crises. In the 2000 review of the document and evaluation of university accomplishments, the university community recommended only slight modification of the goals to bring them up to date with present circumstances. Accordingly, the review groups for each specific goal concentrated on revision of strategies. The university community and members of the public reviewed the groups' proposals, plus two more draft iterations from the Chancellor's Cabinet prior to final draft approval of the plan by the chancellor. The final draft was posted to the web and disseminated to the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, ASUAF, UAF advisory groups, deans, directors, faculty, staff and students on December 1, 2000. Throughout the spring of 2001, indicators, or measurements of success, were developed with campus wide input. The Chancellor's Cabinet formally adopted Strategic Plan: UAF 2005 in July 2001.
The goals of Strategic Plan: UAF 2005 are:
- Serve as a world leader in arctic research and related graduate education
- Provide high quality undergraduate education for traditional and non-traditional students
- Form active collaborations with communities, organizations, businesses and government to meet identified state, national and global needs
- Serve as the premiere higher educational center for Alaska Natives
- Serve as a model to demonstrate how gender, racial and cultural diversity can strengthen a university and society
- Serve as an academic gateway to the study of North Pacific and Circumpolar Northern land and seas
UAF's mission states the institution's fundamental purposes. The strategic plan describes the institution's basic responsibilities as a public higher education institution and sets broad goals and strategies for fulfilling the mission during the next five years. Individual university units will create specific action plans that support the attainment of the mission and goals set forth in this document as well as meeting the requirements of other appropriate university-wide planning documents, such as the academic plan, enrollment plan and campus master plan.