The Entrance to the University of Alaska Southeast. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: The University of Alaska is the state’s most important resource

Together, let’s break the record for donor participation.

  • By Katie Bender, Cindy Wright and Robbie Stell
  • Saturday, November 6, 2021 10:54pm
  • Opinion

Alaskans may not realize the role the University of Alaska plays in the life of almost every Alaskan or in the many communities throughout our state. Many of those you encounter in your day-to-day life received their education through the University of Alaska. Your children are educated by UA-trained teachers, many of the nurses you encounter in the hospital or doctor’s office are university trained, the coffee you grab on your way to work in the morning or the salad you buy for lunch may be from businesses owned by university graduates. Legislative interns and staffers, our best writers and communicators, leaders, pilots, welders and space engineers all attended and earned their degrees from either UAA, UAF or UAS.

As alumni of the university system, we want to tell our story and ask that you join us in an incredible opportunity to support our three universities so that future generations can attend and graduate from our universities, stay here in the state to create their future and contribute to our economy. On Nov. 9 and 10, during UA Giving Day, Alaskans will have the opportunity to participate in an online fundraising event we are calling “49 Hours for Alaska.”

In this two-day fundraiser, participation is the priority. We encourage others to give to the program or area about which they are most passionate. We do this as a community, for when we give to the areas we care about, the cumulative effect makes a huge difference — especially when we spread the word to our friends, family and colleagues. Donations of any size are welcome.

Last year the University of Alaska held its first ever Giving Day. Like many universities around the country, this day celebrated philanthropy in support of higher education. The show of support for UA was tremendous as many Alaskans, including our alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff, rallied to give enthusiastically throughout Alaska as well as from 49 total states and 10 different countries. The generosity of more than 1,100 donors resulted in a cumulative giving total of over $670,000.

Last year we experienced an energy in giving collectively. Donors designated their gifts to specific areas they cared about most. Donations received supported student scholarships, programs and strategic research. We each felt personal joy through our selected giving while joining the larger community in an event that will further the University of Alaska’s mission.

And so, the countdown begins. Please join us this year as we pay tribute to the University of Alaska, an incredibly valuable statewide resource. Together, let’s break the record for donor participation. Please join us and encourage your friends, colleagues and neighbors to join us on Nov. 9 and 10. You can help us spread the word by sharing your UA stories on social media. Use the hashtag #49HoursforAlaska to join the UA Giving Day community. For more information on the 49 Hours for Alaska Giving Day, or to make a gift on Nov. 9-10, visit

Katie Bender, Class of ‘10, is vice president of community and public relations manager for Northrim Bank and UAA Alumni Association Board president. Cindy Wright, Class of ‘88, is coordinator for the Fairbanks Wellness Coalition and UAF Alumni Associated Board President/ Chair. Robbie Stell, Class of ‘74, is a former UAS provost, and UAS Alumni and Friends Association Board president.

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