For Alaska: The Campaign for the University of Alaska (Full Version)
(upbeat music) (mid tempo music) (uplifting music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (mid tempo music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (mid tempo music) - [Narrator] Alaska, land of opportunity. Steeped in tradition and the cultural richness of its first peoples who stewarded this vast, rugged and wondrous land for more than 10,000 years. The abundance of Alaska's natural resources has provided for its people for countless generations. Today, Alaska is changing. For more than a century, the University of Alaska system has provided education and resources to build our great State.
Our three institutions will continue to serve surrounding communities as we work together to create the hope of Alaska's tomorrow. Our vision is a vibrant, bold tomorrow for all Alaskans. Forging ahead with an unwavering persistence for a better and brighter future, achieving new heights and reaching for our dreams. By preparing our workforce with specialized training for our teachers, historians, healthcare workers, fishers and engineers.
By serving as an incubator of ideas, supporting businesses large and small, growing our economy by generating over $1 billion in economic activity. By leading research relevant to Alaska and the Arctic region, providing the skills and scientific knowledge needed to address some of the world's biggest challenges. And by partnering with and learning from Alaska's first peoples to honor and celebrate rich cultural traditions and indigenous knowledge. For we are much more than the University of Alaska. We are the University for Alaska. And we remain steadfast in our purpose, committed to honoring Alaska's yesterday by strengthening it's tomorrow.
We invite you to join us for the advancement of critical research that solves real world challenges, for the strength of Alaska's workforce, for the reinforcement of Alaska's economy and for new opportunities empowered through education. Will you join us For Alaska? - Good evening and welcome. My name is Diane Kaplan and I'm President and CEO of Rasmuson Foundation.
In a minute, I'm going to share with you some exciting news about the ambitious fundraising campaign undertaken by the University of Alaska and challenge you to join us and the many others who have committed to making U of A an institution crime to lead us through the challenging times ahead. As head of The Rasmuson Foundation, I've had the pleasure and great fortune to travel to and meet people in almost every part of our State. You cannot do that and be anything but humbled and inspired by the infinite potential of our future. We are a roll up your sleeves, come together and find a solution type of people.
And while it might not always feel like it especially in this time of incredible partisanship and divisiveness, when the stakes are on the line, we support each other. Let's test that theory for a minute because in many respects, it is why we are here today. In the aftermath of the November 2018 earthquake, did we commit to helping only our Republican or Democratic neighbors in need or did none of that matter? When mudslides ripped through the community of Haines earlier this year, where those instincts not rekindled? And last, as pandemic related closures resulted in layoffs, was your first instinct not, how can I help? That's what type of people we are. We have values with roots back to Alaska's first people, the traditional lands upon which our university sit. And it is a principle that resonated with The Rasmuson Foundation's founders, Jenny and son Elmer Rasmuson. They believe that the best way to help people was to provide them with the tools they needed to help themselves.
It's why Elmer was such a strong proponent of education and economic development. He knew if you gave an Alaskan and the right tools, there wasn't a problem that was too daunting for them to solve. To Elmer and his son Ed Rasmuson, education is one of these tools. It's why both served as Chairs of the University Board of Regents and why Elmer outside of his financial commitments to the Rasmuson Foundation created endowments at the university to support fisheries research, economics education, and the acquisition and preservation of rare Alaska books and maps. I want to tell you why this campaign means so much to me. I was raised along with my two older brothers by a single mother.
Let's just say we were a very modest means. When I attended college, every penny of my tuition, room and board and expenses was paid for, except for my student loans and work study jobs. It was people whose names I never knew who generously provided for my college education through their kindness. I was never able to thank those people individually.
It's why I am so pleased to support the University of Alaska campaign which will ensure that young people like me will also have opportunities. I want those students to know that we, their community are behind them. (uplifting music) - The UA experience to me is definitely about experiencing what you can't experience elsewhere. - I get to study in my own State for careers that I will be able to pursue in my own State and not have to go down to the lower 48 or even leave the country.
- And it's great to have somebody who grows up in Alaska and goes through the education system and then can actually say, "I'm an Alaskan student and I care about the State. "I want to make a difference in this state." - So right now as a student, I'm facing some financial struggles which I rely heavily on the UA scholarship program. - The biggest challenge I faced at the university as a student was definitely funding. - The financial burden of traveling from Ketchikan to Juneau.
- In past times, I've had some trouble with food security. - Not every student honestly has time to manage multiple jobs at a time to be able to afford to go to school here. - Support from the UA foundation for students is so important in many ways that a lot of people don't see. - Donor support has helped me receive scholarships and continuing my education and has helped fund research programs that I've a part of. - I personally was a beneficiary of a few scholarships that came directly from donor support.
One of them was a book scholarship through the English department. - The support that comes from these donors ultimately goes towards bettering any research equipment or research techniques. It allows more students to get experience in the field of research that they wanna get into.
- Having that donor support helps me going to college continuing and finishing a reality for so many students where that might not have been the case. - Donors funds really helped me graduate and get through my health sciences degree. I do hope to give back in my future. - My greatest hope for the future of the university and especially here in Anchorage is that the university continues to be a people's university, that it continues to serve all populations across Alaska, that everybody feels that they have a right to attend and have a right to receive an education. - Our students are our next leaders.
They're the ones who make Alaska great. They're the ones who are gonna be joining the workforce. And by supporting the schools, we're building up our future. We're really investing in the future by investing in education - Students, the reason why we are all here. They are so inspiring and resilient.
They demonstrate the hope for the future, the possibility of what could be and what already is. We are faced yet again with another challenge. And once again, the solution is within all of us to find. It is no secret, the university has been under tremendous financial pressure in recent years. What you may not know is since 2016, the University of Alaska has been raising funds in support of a bold vision for the future. They've been diligently working to raise money to build a university system that matches the resilience of the people who live here.
I am proud to tell you they have raised $135 million of their $200 million goal and Rasmuson Foundation over that time has been the lead organizational donor. The For Alaska Campaign brings together the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Southeast as well as the community campuses stretching from Ketchikan to Kotzebue. The campaign focuses on four specific areas of support, creating broad access to higher education, training and preparing our workforce, advancing critical research and strengthening our economy. Tonight, you will learn how the university is working to achieve these goals through private investment. Focusing first on the goal of creating broad access to higher education, in the history of the Rasmuson Foundation, there are no grants we are more proud of than our investment in the Alaska native science and engineering program. This program is the quintessential example of the power of education, taking underestimated students from rural communities and giving them the tools to become the next generation of engineers, primed and ready to build Alaska.
But ANSEP is just one example of how through private support, we are creating broad access to higher education, providing opportunities for all. (mid tempo music) - The University of Alaska system is providing access to some of the top academic programs in the country taught by world-class faculty and researchers. - Not only do you come to the university to become a professional in your chosen field, but you come here to learn about other people and how to be good to other people and how to interact with other people. - The impacts of the University of Alaska in the State of Alaska is reshaping the entire future of the State. - We need a skilled and educated workforce within our State to help innovate pathways forward for our future collectively.
- Our cultural system, our educational system, our political, economic and financial systems are dependent upon us preparing the next seven generations of leaders. - It only makes us better. It makes us richer. It makes us more full people. - If you want populations to get out of oppression and marginalization, education as a way to get them out of there, but also you have to do it in a way that it doesn't cripple them with that for the rest of their lives.
- We are looking to provide as much financial aid that we can to ensure that our students are successful inside and outside of the class. - We have so many brilliant people, and brilliant students and wonderful research that is just waiting in the wings to be funded. We have native Alaskans who are trying to do research in their communities, from their communities, by their communities. - It's important to have native people involved in education so that students can see themselves and they can see, I could become a scientist, and I could become an artist, and I can become a teacher.
- When Alaska native succeed, Alaska succeeds. And that's the bottom line. And that's my hope for our future that the education system reflects the cultures of who we are within our State. - The University of Alaska is advancing critical research benefiting Alaska, our nation and the world. (upbeat music) - Alaska finds itself at the center of some of the most significant changes that we're seeing on earth. And so the challenges mostly revolve around how do we best respond to those changes? And specifically what is it that research can do to help us make the most of what we're seeing play out? - The things that make Alaska the perfect place to do studies and to have research the size, the variability in climate can also create the same challenges.
It's a very vast space to cover. There's so many different things to measure, things to document and look at. - Everything from monitoring volcanoes and ensuring aviation flight safety by predicting where volcanic ash plumes are gonna go to working with the FAA to allow unmanned aircraft to start doing operations such as cargo delivery to remote communities, medical supply delivery. - Rapid environmental change with changes in Alaska's oceans, movement of fish stocks and changes in the oceans ice cover. - We have rural communities without running water or sewer in their home that struggle with small schools, small health clinics. In those communities, we have researchers that study how to make those processes and systems more efficient.
- Our real goal here is to help the people of Alaska. - The ability to do that research hinges on how you're gonna get there, how you're going to be safe when you're there, how you're gonna fund that work? And all three of those things oftentimes come at a much greater expense than doing it elsewhere. - It's the ingenuity of researchers at the University of Alaska and the students they train that helps us deal with challenging conditions today and a lot of the big challenges and changes that we're expecting to see in the future. (mid tempo music) - Alaska is changing and we must strengthen our economy by supporting innovation and emerging industries. (mid tempo music) - Since we have such a narrowly defined economy with one major industry and a few smaller industries, it's the major ups and downs that really caused the Alaska economy to be very volatile. - We are seeing declines in our legacy oil and gas fields.
And we really need to be thinking about what the economy in the future looks like here in Alaska. - If you have a nice smooth economy, then people have more confidence, more confidence to raise capital, to spend capital, to expand their businesses, to start new businesses. - One of the things that we've been doing at the University of Alaska is really trying to build a more innovative ecosystem that's really connecting researchers and educators with our small businesses in Alaska to help diversify our economy. - We have innovation and entrepreneurship programs try to jumpstart businesses and we don't really always know where they're gonna come from. Maybe it'll be come from something that's Arctic related, maybe it's forestry's or somewhere else.
- I would love to see a really robust economy that is very much connected and interconnected to a global market where people can have high tech and high paying jobs here in Alaska. - We need the entrepreneurs, we need the ideas and we need the skill sets to make that all happen. - We need to be supporting a strong research university to enable our businesses to have the availability of resources and personnel to really support our transition into a more diverse economic future for the State. - To drive our economy, it is imperative we train and prepare our workforce to meet Alaska's employment needs. (upbeat music) - When you go to the hospital or you go to your healthcare provider, you want someone from Alaska who knows your hometown. - Without a university in the State of Alaska, we would start seeing the youth leaving.
It's called a brain drain and we really cannot afford to have it. - We've graduated engineers, biologists, scientists. - Nurses, and doctors, and pharmacists and dental assistants. - When Alaskans have high skill sets that they need for well-paying jobs, then we're all better off.
- An educated workforce, an educated population will benefit the major corporations, nonprofit organizations, the K through 12 school system. - And it's going to improve the quality of life for the State of Alaska and its people. It's going to give our children opportunities to do high-tech jobs here in the State they love.
- Alaskans helping Alaskans is the Alaska way. And that's what this For Alaska Campaign is all about. - Tonight, you have learned about the themes of the For Alaska campaign. This evening is a celebration of investments made and an invitation to join over 6,000 alumni donors, 7,000 donors who have made a first time investment in the University of Alaska and the more than 16,000 total donors who believe in the power of education for Alaska.
Each of these donors has directed their gift to an area within the university that they care about. Private contributions support scholarships and other programs to help students achieve their dreams. - Support from the UA Foundation for students is so important in many ways that a lot of people don't see. I think one thing that really has really connected with me is in past times I've had some trouble with food security and there is a service that helps students with food needs. And I one time had to take them up on that help and support. And I didn't realize how much relief I felt with being able to know that the university was there for me if I needed to as a student.
And learning that, that specific service and support for students was provided through funding from UA foundation. And then with many of the other programs here at my university, I've interacted with learning that a lot of what they do is to support and funding from normal everyday people and their normal everyday Alaskans here in our community who are willing to contribute to help other students and make sure that their experience is a good one. And being able to see and know that, that money is going directly to programs that have helped students, have really brought those students up is really important. It's unfortunate not many people realize it, but once you kind of have a direct relationship with it or you have some kind of direct experience with it, you really learn to appreciate it. And so I can never thank people enough for them for donating and supporting, sending money to a UA Foundation that helps students. And I've been able to benefit directly from it.
I've seen countless other students directly benefit from it. So I think every dollar is a dollar that helps a student out. (uplifting music) - Private gifts also support faculty excellence, academic programs and research projects all across Alaska. In closing, we live in a State where when you go to the airport or grocery store, there's a good chance you're going to run into someone you know. It's why when that earthquake, fire, flood, or economic downturn hits one of us, we all feel it and we all come together to help our neighbors.
The university system is the heart and soul of our State. It can and will prepare our next generation of leaders and problem solvers, but it needs the tools to do it. So I'm asking you to do what Alaskans do, dig deep and contribute.
Please consider donating and help us reach our goal of $200 million For Alaska. Thank you and good night. (uplifting music)