Alaska's biologically and ecologically sustainable fisheries, the rate of climate change in Alaska, the health of our economy, and traditional subsistence communities require that we train and educate scientists and managers with a wide range of knowledge and experience to confront these challenges.
To provide top-notch education and begin to address these challenges, the Rasmuson Foundation provided a six-year, $5 million grant to the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in January 2007. The goal of this initiative was to educate the professionals necessary to guarantee the sustainability of Alaska's vast and healthy marine and freshwater resources. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska State Legislature provided matching funds ($4 million) for this endeavor, with the legislature agreeing to provide $1 million annually to support the program following the conclusion of the grant.
This grant of historical proportions from the Rasmuson Foundation contributed to a new Bachelor of Arts in Fisheries and a revised Bachelor of Sciences in Fisheries as well as a new minor in Fisheries. A new, hands-on experiential learning feature is included in these programs. In addition, there is broad geographic availability for the programs, including distance-delivered classes. Scholarships and financial aid are offered for these programs and there are several fisheries faculty members who serve as advisors to students.
As a result of this generous grant, CFOS now has 44 undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Sciences program and 16 undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Arts program. Since the program reinvigoration, 48 students have graduated with a Fisheries degree as a result of this grant.
We thank the Rasmuson Foundation for believing in our school to provide a well-respected Fisheries program. Deputy Commissioner of ADF&G Charlie Swanton said, “the university (with financial support from the Rasmuson Foundation) effectively rebuilt the undergraduate fisheries program into its current highly regarded state. As the current fiscal climate dictates for all state entities, collaborative and cooperative work is the successful pathway for our future.”
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
In 2012 Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Program Officer Erin Dovichin came to UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers with an idea. What if the University of Alaska could act as a convener of sorts to form a collaborative group of salmon-connected entities to address issues connected with long-term sustainability of salmon? Could the University form a Center of Excellence on salmon, providing much-needed research, synthesis of existing salmon-related data surrounding existing “wicked problems,” and educate the next generation of fisheries-related professionals, all the while engaging the entirety of salmon-connected entities (we call the “salmon community”)? Simultaneously we thought, “what a tremendous idea,” and “why aren’t we already doing this?”
Since then many people have participated in the project—the Center for Salmon and Society. A core team with members ranging from the University of Alaska, the University of Washington, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alaska Native groups to the commercial fishing industry has been working on such a project—thanks to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
We are inviting additional funding partners to join us to ensure the Center for Salmon and Society is a world-renowned, collaborative center addressing 21st Century issues and contributing to the health of salmon and people who depend upon them.