Task force looks at future of university in Fairbanks

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2007

FAIRBANKS - A task force has some recommendations on what the University of Alaska Fairbanks should look like in 2017, the campus' 100th anniversary.

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The 55-member UAF Vision Task Force last week discussed ways to increase student enrollment and retention, improve research and teaching, create a more stable and productive staff, and increase community involvement with the university in the next decade.

The members - which included students, alumni, professors, administrators, and business leaders from around the state - then laid out a series of broad recommendations for the university, including:

• providing more research opportunities for students at the undergraduate level, which would help energize students and keep them from leaving school;

• offering more Internet-based classes to encourage more non-traditional students;

• improving its image, especially among potential students in Anchorage, many of whom don't consider UAF to be an academically strenuous campus, according to Kevin Huddy, UAF's director of Residence Life;

• increasing emphasis on new-student orientation. Incoming freshman need to get more counseling earlier in their college careers to make sure they have a plan that will keep them at UAF;

• improving its orientation program for new employees;

• encouraging more alumni support.

The group also found that there needs to be more research to help Alaskans move from nonrenewable to sustainable energy sources. Among other recommendations is that UAF should work with business leaders to make sure students are learning employable skills, and university officials should regularly ask the community for advice and suggestions.

Task force members will spend the next few months turning these broad ideas into specific actions, which will be presented to Chancellor Steve Jones in September.

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