FAIRBANKS — As the University of Alaska Fairbanks approaches its 100th birthday, Chancellor Brian Rogers said some changes are ahead for the flagship campus of the school system.
Rogers used his 2011 convocation speech Tuesday to focus on the future of academics, facilities and student life at the Fairbanks school. Much of the speech was a look ahead to 2017, when the university will hold its centennial.
The chancellor said part of the plan leading up to the centennial involves academic changes at UAF, which is undergoing a periodic evaluation of its accreditation. The university will be updating its mission statement, strategic plan and core curriculum in the near future, he said.
The curriculum, which was adopted in 1991, needs to better reflect modern realities without ignoring the value of a liberal education, Rogers said.
“Universities are not just job factories,” he said. “At UAF, we need to teach students to think, adapt and use logic.”
UAF also was preparing for the future with a handful of new capital projects, including the new life sciences building, new housing and an addition to the student activities center. At the top of the construction wish list is a power plant, estimated to cost more than $200 million.
Rogers said a new plant is both economically and environmentally correct because UAF would need to spend more than $40 million to temporarily fix the existing system, which is reaching the end of its life.
The new plant will run off a combination of coal, biofuels, gas, wind and waste energy. It will replace the existing plant that uses mostly coal and oil.
Rogers said he has heard objections to the construction of a coal-fired plant, but that it was the only cost-effective way to heat the campus in interior Alaska.