Alaska Voices: A university of place

UAA is in Alaska’s largest population center and is open to anyone seeking greater opportunity

  • Monday, April 8, 2019 11:54pm
  • Opinion

Some memories stick with you. For me, one of those memories begins as I’m sitting in an airplane taking off from Ted Stevens International Airport, having just finished my campus interview at University of Alaska Anchorage. I looked at the mountains and ocean, and I did not feel like I was departing from a short trip to a new city, I felt like I was departing my home. I was hit by a major revelation that I was meant to be at UAA. I know that UAA is where I want to be because I know that it’s where I can make the greatest impact.

There is a growing trend throughout the U.S. education system. In regions, like Alaska, where factors such as declining birthrates and migration predict significant declines in university enrollment, urban/metropolitan universities are thriving.

Urban/metropolitan universities are located in highly populated areas and commercial centers. They were initially safety schools and commuter schools but, in these select regions, they have become first choice schools.

They provide open access with a focus on student success and serving diverse populations. They offer relevant degree programs, credentials and skills that serve current and emerging workforce needs. And, they focus on community service and applied research activity to stay connected and socially embedded in their communities.

Examples of these kinds of universities include University of Texas San Antonio, Portland State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and, proudly, University of Alaska Anchorage.

UAA is located in Alaska’s largest population center and is open to anyone seeking greater opportunity through education. We have a relentless focus on student success and it has paid off. UAA increased standard completion of bachelor of arts degrees by 6% in one year!

The programs offered by UAA (ranging from credentials and certificates to PhDs) are relevant to what our city and state workforce needs. We graduate the largest numbers of students in health care, engineering, business and management, social sciences, hospitality, aviation and diesel mechanics.

The degree programs we offer are a direct bridge to UAA’s commitment to community and social responsibility. Programs like the Surgical Technology program, which was created in partnership with (and funded by) local health care leaders, help fill community needs. Our nursing program delivers degrees to Alaskans here in Anchorage and, as UA’s lead university for health education, we provide our programs in locations across the state. Other examples of UAA community partnerships are the UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research, which is at the forefront of public policy research and often the first place that elected officials turn when they need data to support law and policy, and the ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering Endowment, an $11M endowment that supports research projects that directly benefit our state.

Because of projects like these and UAA’s dedication to community service (Seawolf Athletes alone donate over 2,700 hours of community service every year), UAA was recently commended by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities for its community engagement.

UAA is not the “ivory tower,” it never has been. We are proud of who we are, a university of place. UAA is accessible, engaged and connected and we care about our communities, region and state. Our people embody our mission and we are positioned to do even more in the future. I invite you to share in the greatness that I have come to see at UAA. Attend one of the many open events on campus, use our library, hire a graduate, support a scholarship, or take a class. That is what attracted me to UAA from my first campus interview. I took the job and I haven’t looked back.

Cathy Sandeen has been Chancellor of UAA since September 2018.

• Cathy Sandeen has been Chancellor of UAA since September 2018.

More in Opinion

The Alaska Capitol on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Alaska Voices: Legislature deserves credit

A special session shouldn’t have been necessary, but at least it was only one day instead of 30 days.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Alaska Voices: Please be safe, courteous, and legal as you fish in Alaska this summer

As you head out to hit the water this year, here are a few tips to help you have a safe and citation free season

An observer makes an entry in the Fish Map App on Prince of Wales Island. (Photo by Lee House/courtesy Salmon State)
Alaska Voices: Document Alaska rivers with new fish map app

The app provides a way for everyday Alaskans to document rivers home to wild salmon, whitefish, eulachon and other ocean-going fish — and earn money doing it

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Sustainability report is a greenwashing effort

Report leaves out “the not-so-pretty.”

Pictured is an adult Chinook salmon swimming in Ship Creek, Anchorage. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Voices of the Peninsula: Proactive measures key to king salmon recovery

I have been sport fishing king salmon along the eastern shores of Cook Inlet and in the Kenai River since 1977

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day

As we honor the men and women who fell in service to our nation, we must keep their memories alive through their stories

Shana Loshbaugh (Courtesy photo)
History conference seeking input from peninsula people

The Alaska Historical Society will hold its annual conference on the central peninsula this fall

Coach Dan Gensel (left) prepares to get his ear pierced to celebrate Soldotna High School’s first team-sport state championship on Friday, Febr. 12, 1993 in Soldotna, Alaska. Gensel, who led the Soldotna High School girls basketball team to victory, had promised his team earlier in the season that he would get his ear pierced if they won the state title. (Rusty Swan/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering my friend, Dan Gensel

It’s a friendship that’s both fixed in time and eternal

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The false gods in America’s gun culture

HB 61 is a solution in search of a problem.

Most Read