Grace Berg Schaible has a connection with the University of Alaska that few if any other people can claim. She has personally known every president of the institution but one. Given that the university is 100 years old, hers is a remarkable view.
That breadth of experience with the university reflects an equally broad experience in the state. A lawyer who helped guide the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. in its early years, she served as the state’s first female attorney general, an Alaska Permanent Fund board member and a University of Alaska regent.
Schaible’s familiarity with the university’s leaders is even more remarkable since the single president missing from her acquaintance was not the university’s first. In fact, she knew President Charles Bunnell quite well. (The missing acquaintance, Schaible said in a 2015 interview, was a man hired briefly during the chaotic mid-1970s, when the university had four presidents in one 12-month span.)
Bunnell, president from 1921 to 1949, personally recruited Schaible in 1944 during a trip to Juneau, her home town. She ended up working as his secretary.
After earning a history degree in 1949, Schaible got a master’s degree at George Washington University and then attended Yale Law School.
She married Dr. Arthur Schaible in 1958, just weeks before graduating from law school. He would later serve as a university regent.
In Fairbanks, Grace Schaible began work as a private attorney, which occupied her for the next quarter century. A primary client was ASRC, the Barrow-based corporation created to accept the 1971 Alaska Native claims settlement grant of land and money from Congress.
In 1985, Gov. Bill Sheffield made Schaible a university regent. Gov. Steve Cowper appointed her attorney general in 1987. Gov. Tony Knowles placed her on the Alaska Permanent Fund board in 1995.
For decades, Schaible has been one of the university’s most generous supporters. She has endowed scholarships and helped raise money for the University of Alaska Museum of the North expansion completed in 2005. The university named her one of just three Philanthropists of the Century in February 2017.
Schaible died on June 9, 2017, at age 91.
More online about Grace Schaible:
- A lengthy series of interviews in 2006 with Donna Willard-Jones, an Anchorage attorney, as part of the American Bar Association’s Women Trailblazers in the Law Project.
- An article in the fall 2015 edition of UAF’s Aurora magazine.
- An 1976 article from the Alaska Alumnus and links to other material on the UA Journeys site.