Saturday, May 25, 2013
Chancellor Brian Rogers Uses UAF Convocation Speech to Look at Future of University
Rogers spent much of the event looking ahead to 2017, when the university will be 100 years old.
FAIRBANKS — As the University of Alaska Fairbanks approaches its centennial, Chancellor Brian Rogers used his 2011 convocation speech to focus on the future of academics, facilities and student life.
Rogers, offering his annual presentation on Tuesday about the state of UAF, spent much of the event looking ahead to 2017, when the university will be 100 years old.
Emphasizing UAF’s status as the flagship campus of the UA system, Rogers said future plans “will excite and serve the students who learn here, the faculty and staff who work here and the communities that depend on us.”
Part of that plan will include academic changes at UAF, which is undergoing a periodic evaluation of its accreditation. He said the university will update its mission statement, strategic plan and core curriculum in the near future.
The curriculum, which was adopted in 1991, needs to better reflect modern realities without ignoring the value of a liberal education, he said.
“Universities are not just job factories,” he said. “At UAF, we need to teach students to think, adapt and use logic.”
Rogers said UAF also is prepping for the future with a handful of new capital projects, including the new Life Sciences building, new housing and an addition to the Wood Center.
At the top of the construction wish list is a new power plant, which comes with an estimated price tag of more than $200 million.
He said a new plant is both the economically and environmentally correct choice, since UAF would need to spend more than $40 million just to put “temporary, expensive patches” for the existing system, which is reaching the end of its life. A new plant would run off a combination of coal, biofuels, gas, wind and waste energy, replacing the existing plant that uses mostly coal and oil.
Rogers said he’s heard some objections to the construction of a new coal-fired plant, but said it’s the only cost-effective way to heat the campus.
Rogers said the next year will be dedicated to collecting feedback about the mission and future of UAF as it heads toward its centennial, with at least two open forums each semester to collect feedback.
Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.