Few people in UAF’s history have as long and close a relationship with the institution as Brian Rogers. First as a student and finally as a chancellor, Rogers played influential roles in the interim period as lecturer, legislator, regent and statewide administrator.
When he retired as chancellor in 2015 after 45 years of association with UAF, he said in an interview that he wasn’t done yet.
Rogers came to UAF in 1970, following a friend from New England. He never earned a degree at UAF, but he never really left the place either.
Wood Center, as just one example, reflects the arc of Roger’s association with UAF. As a student, he helped advocate for a new student union that resulted in Wood Center’s construction. He also worked briefly as a laborer on a repair project. Less than a decade later, as a Fairbanks representative in the state House, he sponsored an act that paid off the construction debt, which had been funded by student fees. As a chancellor starting in 2008, Rogers successfully completed construction of a major expansion that moved the central campus dining facility into Wood Center’s new wing. It opened in August 2014.
In between his time as legislator and chancellor, Rogers served in the UA statewide system’s finance office. In those positions, he helped manage the massive budget cuts initiated by a freefall in state revenues during the oil-price bust of the mid-1980s. UAF’s structure today still reflects the reorganization forced by that period.
Rogers left UA statewide as vice president for finance in 1995 to join his spouse, Sherry Modrow, in a private consulting business. But in 1999 he was back as a member of the UA Board of Regents. He spent eight years there before then-UA President Mark Hamilton named him chancellor of UAF in 2008.
In addition to Wood Center’s expansion, Rogers helped secure funding for a critically important new heat and power plant, completed in 2018, and a modern teaching and research facility for the engineering program, completed in 2017. Rogers also boosted fundraising, including the Troth Yeddha’ initiative to build an Indigenous studies center and develop a park honoring Alaska Native peoples. Modrow acted as “university advocate” and worked alongside him on many of the initiatives.
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