Letters from the Editor: Home Soil

The air is getting cooler, the birds are noisily announcing their departure and the leaves are beginning to change. Autumn is returning to Interior Alaska, and with it, a new academic year has begun here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

If you’re new to the campus, or to Fairbanks in general, welcome! You have arrived, simply put, in a strange place nestled within a strange place. UAF has no small number of oddities and idiosyncrasies, many uniquely Alaskan. Our university owns its own rocket launch range and was recently handed the keys to a facility conspiracy theorists suspect of controlling the weather. You may hear tales of the tunnels that form a web underneath our campus (I assure you, they are very real) or that Wood Center’s “stairs to nowhere” were meant to lead to a third floor (that one is also true).

Equally unique to Alaska is the crisis we presently face. The plummeting price of oil has left the state in financial free-fall, and legislators find the UA system a juicy target for cuts. Fears and rumors swirl around UA System President Johnsen’s “Strategic Pathways Initiative” and rightfully so: the initiative represents a series of painful but ultimately necessary cuts and cost reductions. Although some departments will be more affected than others, ultimately we will all feel the sting of these fiscal hard times.

But despite the strangeness and circumstances, I earnestly believe that you have made an excellent choice in coming to UAF. For its cost, the quality of education here is excellent. Our departments are staffed with talented, passionate professors and staff. And UAF’s scientific focus – combined with its unique location – makes our school uniquely positioned to be a leader in Arctic research and on the front lines of analyzing climate change.

No matter who you are, where you’ve come from or what you’ve arrived to study, you can do well here. Study hard. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Though it’s often overlooked, make sure to have fun – it’ll help pass the time in the dark winter.

And if you’re already a veteran of UAF, well, you’re probably already on-track. Keep doing what you’re doing. Godspeed.

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