The University of Alaska has a lot of land, but says not as much as it should.

The university states it owns 150,000 acres under the federal land grant program. However, UA says it is still owed about 360,000 acres of public land.

UA president Jim Johnsen says the university system is working with the federal government to regain the land it lost when Alaska became a state in 1959. Johnsen discussed the issue during Thursday's Commonwealth North luncheon at the Petroleum Club of Anchorage.

According to UA, about 12,000 acres are devoted to education and the remaining 138,000 acres are used generate revenue for scholarships, training and research. The income is placed into a fund; earnings from which are used for initiatives like the Alaska Scholars Program, a $12,000 scholarship to the top 10% of graduates from every Alaska high school.

"The intention there was to try and keep more of our best and brightest high school graduates in Alaska," said Johnsen. 

According to a 2019 whitepaper, "The University remains convinced that there must be a way, consistent with the Alaska Constitution, for the State and Federal Governments to fulfill the Statehood Act commitment to provide UA with the rest of its land grant."

Net income from land sales, leases, and resource development have generated more than $210 million since 1987. 

UA is working on a joint federal-state initiative to redress its land grant gap, the paper reads. Whether or not it is successful, the university states it will continue its efforts, "until its land grant is commensurate with the scope of the dreams and duties Alaskans want their University to achieve."

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