As many of you have probably heard, the State of Alaska’s, and therefore the university’s, recent budget climate has been challenging, to say the least. This challenge will continue into the foreseeable future. In light of that, we are doing what we can to boost revenues by recruiting more students, conducting more research (which increases grant funding) and raising more private dollars, as well as tightening our belts.
Despite the budget outlook, there is plenty of good news. While there haven’t been any new construction projects on our community campuses in recent years, the Fairbanks campus has had several. A public-private partnership has created new dining facilities in Wood Center, a more convenient central location. The state legislature approved a funding package to replace our 50-year-old power plant so we can reliably heat and light the campus. We’re also working on a new engineering facility between the Duckering and Bunnell buildings. If you have seen the Fairbanks campus lately, you will have no doubt noticed our changing skyline.
The next project of great importance to our university and state is the development of the Troth Yeddha’ Legacy.
Troth Yeddha’, which means “wild potato ridge” in the Lower Tanana Athabascan dialect, is the hill on which the Fairbanks campus sits. Elders tell us that Athabascan residents of this area not only harvested the roots here but also held meetings to discuss important matters.
Today, UAF carries on this legacy, with people gathering from across the globe to learn and teach. Athabascan Chief Peter John of Minto, speaking about Troth Yeddha’ in 1994, said elders endorsed this vision of Troth Yeddha’s future. They agreed that this traditional gathering spot should, in Chief John’s words, “continue being a place where thinking and working together would happen.”
The Troth Yeddha’ Legacy will be developed in two phases. First, Troth Yeddha’ Park, already established between the UA Museum of the North and the Reichardt Building on the Fairbanks campus, will be enhanced to celebrate Alaska Native cultures and to create a central gathering place for events. The second phase will build an indigenous studies center in the park.
Expanding the Troth Yeddha’ Legacy will help us reach several goals. We will honor Alaska Native culture and history. We will strengthen the wide variety of UAF academic programs relevant to indigenous peoples. Finally, we will create a tangible sense of belonging for Alaska Native students. All this will make UAF an even finer institution in the coming century.
You can learn more about Troth Yeddha’ here.
Brian Rogers, chancellor
*”Thank you” in Tanana Athabascan