FAIRBANKS - The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday the award of two grants, totaling more than $2.3 million, to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Interior-Aleutians Campus to make college accessible to Alaska Natives throughout the state. The grants were provided under the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Program, part of Title III of the Higher Education Act.
"The Obama Administration supports the use of technology and other innovative means to overcome distance and remove barriers to higher education in rural communities," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who visited Bethel and Hooper Bay Wednesday and Anchorage on Tuesday as part of the White House Rural Tour. "Today's grant announcement is a small piece of an overall strategy to strengthen rural America. Recent high school graduates and adults training for new careers will benefit from this investment, which will be used to expand access to the university on campus and from remote locations."
A $2 million grant will be used to expand and renovate the Harper Building at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Harper Building is the headquarters for the school's distance learning operation and hosts students from throughout rural Alaska when they come to Fairbanks for intensive study sessions. The enlarged Harper Building will include new classrooms and laboratory facilities, and provide more space for visiting students to study. A hub-and-spoke design will increase faculty interaction with on-site students, increasing the likelihood of retention and graduation.
A $340,000 grant will help educators at the Interior-Aleutians Campus develop and improve educational offerings to rural and Alaska Native students in fields such as tribal management, natural resources management, construction trades technology and veterinary science.