During 1992, a group of 21 faculty, staff, students and community leaders met to discuss the shape and direction of the University of Alaska Fairbanks as it approaches the 21st century. This was the first university-wide group charged with charting the future of the institution since the massive restructuring of 1986-87. That restructuring added community college, vo-tech, extension service, and rural-based education to the undergraduate and graduate instruction previously offered by UAF. Those additions brought a wide range of non-traditional students to UAF and turned the university into Alaska's non-traditional Ph.D.-granting institution.
We talked most about UAF's future, about the challenges to provide high quality education, and to serve our many communities properly and well. We learned that even four years after restructuring, problems remain in bringing together the vocational, non-degree, undergraduate, and graduate programs. We discovered new opportunities to serve a student body that continues to change and grow, one more varied than those of the last decade or two. The ideas in UAF 2000 highlight strengthening our united communities and helping our very different programs work smoothly and effectively to improve higher education in Alaska.
People reminded us often that we should not try to "be all things to all people." We recognize that as good advice. In fact, UAF offers only a portion of the programs found at most land-grant universities. We have no medical school, no law school, no architecture, pharmacy, or veterinary schools. We have developed graduate programs in selected fields, building on our strengths, rather than offering across-the-board graduate programs.
UAF has unique features not duplicated in other units of the UA system. It is the state's primary residential campus and the state's only doctoral-granting institution. It is widely acknowledged as Alaska's leading research institution, particularly on issues related to the Arctic. UAF provides educational services to a wide variety of students, many of whom are place-bound. The rural campuses deliver essential services to people who would not otherwise be able to continue their education. We see UAF 2000 as a dynamic and energetic plan for Alaska's future, anticipating and responding to the educational needs of Alaska and Alaskans.
To anticipate and respond properly, UAF must communicate with precision and clarity. We need to reach out to prospective students and listen to our communities, linking learning with real life. Making clear connections between teaching, research, and public service will be a major ongoing challenge.
Meeting this challenge will mean making UAF's strong programs visible in our communities and across the nation. We need to blend UAF's top-level research with undergraduate and graduate education. We need to put talented students in touch with UAF's best researchers, to share the awareness of new discoveries and to learn how to make fresh connections. We need to accommodate new students from the expanded military population in Fairbanks and to take particular care to serve older and returning students.
UAF 2000 suggests ways to coordinate and communicate, improving what we do so we serve more students more effectively. In some cases, we will need resources to update existing programs and to introduce new areas of study to keep pace with developments in rapidly changing fields. In other cases, without new funding, we can bring together students, faculty and communities to design better ways to solve problems and to improve our lives. In all cases--in science, language, engineering, business, the arts--across all disciplines, UAF students and faculty have major contributions to make to Alaska.
The Strategic Planning Leadership proposes six major goals for UAF to reach by the year 2000, and some specific strategies for meeting those goals. The goals depend on one another, and many ideas fit under more than one heading. Except in rare cases, the plan does not target specific programs or units. Instead the plan presents a well-defined vision to guide decision-making, and a set of strategies to shape planning and budgeting. Individual units will create specific action plans within these guidelines.
BY THE YEAR 2000 UAF SHOULD:
- Become the world's leader in arctic research and graduate education
- Provide high quality undergraduate education for traditional and non-traditional students
- Be a leading partner with communities, industry, and government to solve specific state and national needs
- Become the educational center for alaska natives
- Be a model that demonstrates how gender, racial, and cultural diversity strengthen a university and society
- Be the academic gateway to the russian far east, the north pacific, and the circumpolar north