History of UAA


The First 50 Years

The First 50 Years

In 2004, the University of Alaska Anchorage celebrated 50 years of public higher education in southcentral Alaska.  Home to almost 21,000 students, it is a major regional university with programs ranging from non-credit, non-degree courses to graduate degrees. UAA is now the largest of the University of Alaska schools, and, beyond doubt, one of the most important institutions, public or private, in the state of Alaska. 

Becoming UAA: 1954 - 2014

Becoming UAA

Dr. Will Jacobs - emeritus professor of History & Political Science - details the rapid growth and constant pressure that shaped today's university.

A Brief History of the University of Alaska Anchorage

From Sourdough to Seawolves

From Sourdoughs to Seawolves

From Sourdoughs to Seawolves captures the early history of UAA’s mascot and athletic program and provides a visual celebration of the program’s growth and success.  This book was produced as part of an ongoing effort to preserve the history of the university by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Engagement, and Academic Support.


UAA History Timeline


  • The population of Anchorage is 30,060.
  • University of Alaska begins offering courses on Southcentral military bases.
  • Elmer RasmusonDr. Terris Moore, President of the University of Alaska (UA), and Regents Elmer Rasmuson and Earl Albrecht worked to expand the University from Fairbanks campus by bringing courses to military bases and developing community colleges.
  • Territorial Community College Act establishes a framework for cooperation between school districts and the University of Alaska.
  • The first community colleges are formed at Anchorage and Ketchikan.
  • Anchorage Community College (ACC), a joint venture of the Anchorage Independent School District and the University of Alaska, opens the second floor of what is now West High School.  It offers primarily academic and business related courses, 385 students enrolled in the first semester.  LeVake Renshaw, local consulting engineer, was the first student to enroll, and went on to earn a degree from UAF.
  • Dr. LeRoy Good named the first ACC Director.

First UAA Graduate


  • First graduation from ACC.  One graduate, Vincent Earl Demarest, receives an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration.
  • Melvin Huden named ACC Director.
  • Palmer Community College founded.
  • Founding of the first student newspaper, the “Campus Courier”.
  • Alaska enters the Union as the 49th state.
  • Eugene Short named ACC Chief Executive Officer.
  • The population of Anchorage is 82,833. 
  • William R. Wood named University of Alaska president.  He played a strong role in the expansion of UA into Anchorage.
  • UA offers graduate courses in Anchorage leading to Masters in Education and Masters of Science in Engineering degrees - the first graduate programs in Southcentral Alaska. 
  • The Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) opens as the first public policy research center in Alaska.
  • Alaska legislature incorporates the state's community colleges into the University of Alaska higher education system.
  • Kenai Peninsula Community College founded. 
  • Good Friday earthquake rocks Southcentral Alaska.

Matanuska-Susitna Community College



  • Palmer Community College renamed Matanuska-Susitna Community College.
  • The Anchorage Regional Center (ARC) is established to consolidate public higher education programs in the Anchorage area, including ACC and courses offered at local military bases. 
  • Dr. Donald DaFoe, formerly superintendent of schools in Anchorage, named first provost of the ARC.
  • Kodiak Community College founded. 
  • Anchorage Regional Center expands to become Southcentral Regional Center administering community colleges, military education, upper division and graduate programs for the entire region.  This institution foreshadowed the current structure of UAA. 
  • Construction begins near Goose Lake on the outskirts of Anchorage for a permanent campus for ACC.
  • Dr. Lewis Haines named provost of Southcentral Regional Center.
1969 - 1971   
  • Formation of Anchorage Higher Education Consortium between Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University) and UA, allowing for ease of transfer credit and sharing of library resources.
  • The population of Anchorage is 126,385.
  • ACC dedicates its present campus on Providence Ave. and moves from West High School into the five new buildings later named in honor of Eugene Short, Beatrice McDonald, Lucy Cuddy, Gordon Hartlieb and Sally Monserud.
  • University of Alaska, Anchorage is formed in November, composed of ACC and Anchorage Senior College.
  • The Anchorage Senior College is created from existing upper-division and graduate courses and programs.
  • First joint (ACC and Senior College) commencement ceremony at West High School.  A total of 265 Masters, baccalaureate, and associates degrees and certificates are awarded.
  • Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies is created to address the social, physical, and psychological concerns of alcoholism.
  • ACC independently accredited as Anchorage Community College.
  • Construction begins on Consortium Library to be shared by Alaska Methodist University and the UA,A.
  • University enters into first collective bargaining agreement with Local 2404, Alaska Community College Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
  • Building K (now Professional Studies Building) and Building J (now the Auto/Diesel Technology Building) open on West Campus.
    Consortium Library


  • Consortium Library opens.  
  • ACCFT faculty declare a (brief) strike for increased compensation.
  • Senior College Building (now Social Sciences Building) opens.
  • University of Alaska, Anchorage receives accreditation from Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • UA,A Performing Arts Center (now Wendy Williamson Auditorium) sees its first performance.
  • The Justice Center is created to provide research and instruction in justice and crime issues in Alaska.
  • Dr. William Stewart named ACC Campus President.
  • Provost position at UA,A replaced with a Chancellor - Chief Administrative Officer and Academic Leader in charge of all university activities, research and academics.
  • Dr. Wendell Wolfe named Acting UA,A Chancellor.

Dr. John Lindauer



  • Dr. John Lindauer named first Chancellor of UA,A.
  • Science Building opens.
  • Formation of the Community Colleges and Rural Education Extension (CCREE), a statewide organization devoted to the community college mission.  ACC is separated from UA,A and included in CCREE as its largest unit.  UA,A is composed of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Justice Center, and the Schools of Education, Engineering, Nursing, Business, and Public Administration.
  • First higher education classes offered in Eagle River.
  • Wendell W. Wolfe, named acting UA,A Chancellor.
  • First Great Alaska Shootout is held in the Buckner Fieldhouse on Fort Richardson.
  • Dr. Frank Harrison named Chancellor at UA,A.
  • Prince William Sound Community College established in Valdez.
  • Campus Center complex (including the Student Union and Wells Fargo Sports Center) opens.
  • Dr. Edward Biggerstaff named ACC Campus President.
  • North Slope oil money begins to flow into Alaska's treasury, allowing for expansion of higher education opportunities across the state.
  • Mining and Petroleum Training Services (MAPTS) is created in Kenai to meet the training needs of Alaskan resource development industries.
  • The population of Anchorage is 174,431.
  • The Engineering Building opens.
  • ACC's Adult Education Center and Merrill Field Aviation Complex (now the Aviation Technology Center) open.
  • Dr. David Outcalt named UA,A Chancellor.
  • Dr. Ronald Smith named Acting ACC Campus President.
  • ACC becomes a separate college with its own Chancellor, independent of Community Colleges and Rural Education Extension (CCREE).
  • Dr. Edward Biggerstaff named ACC Chancellor.
  • Allied Health Sciences Building opens.
  • UA,A Administration Building open.
  • Dr. Herbert Lyon named ACC Chancellor.
  • First student apartments constructed on the campus open.
  • UA,A Fine Arts Building opens.
  • UA,A campus radio station KRUA begins broadcasting.  
  • Dr. Clark Ahlberg named interim UA,A Chancellor.
  • UA president Dr. Donald O'Dowd announces plans for reorganization of the entire university system in response to a 15 per cent cut in statewide university funding. 
  • Based on a state fiscal crisis, ACC, elements of CCREE, and UA,A are merged to become UAA - one of three separately accredited regional universities in the UA system.
  • Prince William Sound Community College becomes the only community college in the statewide system.
  • Dr. Marvin Looney named UAA Chancellor.
  • Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies created to develop new solutions to health problems in Alaska and circumpolar north.
  • Dr. Donald O'Dowd named University of Alaska president and interim Chancellor of UAA.
  • Dr. Donald Behrend named UAA Chancellor.
  • The population of Anchorage is 226,338.
  • UAA awards 1080 certificates and associates, baccalaureate, and Masters degrees.
  • UAA students staged a "sleep-in" to protest proposed cost increases (raising tuition to $58/credit hour) and loss of classes.
  • University space crunch temporarily relieved with purchase of Diplomacy Building at Tudor Center.
  • UAA awards 61 per cent of all degrees in the UA system.
  • Business Education Building opens.
  • The first Edward Albee Last Frontier Theater Conference is held in Valdez.
  • The American-Russian Center is created to train businessmen and government leaders in the Russian Far East.
  • UAA Minority Student Services becomes AHAINA (African American, Hispanic, Asian, International and Native American).
  • Edward Lee Gorsuch named UAA Chancellor.
  • The state-of-the-art expansion of the Aviation Technology Center opens at Merrill Field.
  • Three four-story residence halls and the Commons opens.
  • University Honors Program created. 
  • Global Logistics program opens, funded by a partnership with the Municipality of Anchorage, private industry, and UAA.
  • The population of Anchorage is 260,283.
  • Enrollment & Financial Services and units of the Community and Technical College occupy a newly remodeled University Center space, revitalizing a dying mall in the heart of Anchorage.
  • Expansion of the School of Nursing, funded by a partnership with the largest health care providers in Alaska, will double the number of Nursing graduates.
  • Dedication of the Library of the 21st Century, a major addition and transformation of the Consortium Library.
  • Environmental and Biomedical Laboratory Building opens.
  • Dr. Elaine Maimon named UAA Chancellor.
  • UAA celebrates its 50th Anniversary.
  • Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) building opened.
  • Fran Ulmer named UAA Chancellor.
  • Conoco/Phillips Integrated Science Building opened.
  • UAA named a Military Friendly School for the first time by G.I. Jobs.
  • First Machetanz Arts Festival held at the Mat-Su College in Palmer.
  • Center for Addressing Health Disparities through Research and Education (CADHRE) created with a $1.2 million grant from the National Institute for Health.
  • Anchorage population is 291,826.
  • Tom Case named UAA Chancellor.
  • Health Sciences Building, Phase I opened.
  • New College of Health created by combining programs formerly located in the College of Health and Social Welfare, the WWAMI School of Medical Education in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Allied Health located in the Community and Technical College.
  • The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities approved UAA’s offering of doctoral degrees and UAA awarded its first joint Ph.D.'s in Clinical-Community Psychology at the Spring 2012 Commencement and Graduate Hooding ceremonies. 
  • First INNOVATE awards presented, providing initial funds to encourage research and entrepreneurial ventures at UAA. 
  • Kenai Peninsula College opened its first residence halls on the Kenai River Campus. 
  • Record 2,633 degrees and certificates awarded across all UAA campuses.
  • Arctic Domain Awareness Center, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence opened on the UAA Anchorage campus. 
  • Two new buildings made possible by a University of Alaska statewide bond package approved by voters in 2010 opened: the 5,000-seat arena and sports center, The Alaska Airlines Center and the state-of-the-art The Glenn Massay Theater at Mat-Su College.
  • The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities approved the UA Board of Regents proposal to bring Prince William Sound Community College within UAA’s institutional accreditation.  Formerly separately accredited, the campus was renamed Prince William Sound College.

Faculty Senate Presidents

2020 - 21 Kelly Smith Automotive & Diesel Technology Community & Technical College
2019 - 20 Scott Downing English Kenai Peninsula College
2018 - 19 Maria Williams Alaska Native Studies College of Arts & Sciences
2017 - 18 Sharon Chamard, Associate Professor Justice Center College of Health
2016 - 17 David Fitzgerald, Professor Information Systems CBPP
2015 - 16 Tara Smith, Professor CPDS Comm & Technical College
2014 - 15 Diane Hirshberg, Professor ISER CBPP
2013 - 14 Mark Fitch, Associate Professor Math College of Arts & Sciences
2012 - 13 Robert Boeckmann, Associate Professor Psychology College of Arts & Sciences
2011 - 12 Nalinaksha Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor Accounting & Finance CBPP
2010 - 11 John Petraitis, Professor Psychology College of Arts & Sciences
2009 - 10 Genie Babb, Associate Professor English College of Arts & Sciences
2008 - 09 Anne Bridges, Associate Professor Culinary Arts Comm & Technical College
2007 - 08 Bogdan Hoanca, Associate Professor Information Systems CBPP
2006 - 07 Kerri Morris, Associate Professor English College of Arts & Sciences
2005 - 06 Greg Protasel, Associate Professor Public Administration CBPP
2004 - 05 Tim Hinterberger, Associate Professor WWAMI Health & Social Welfare
2003 - 04 Larry Foster, Associate Professor Math College of Arts & Sciences
2002 - 03 Deborah Narang, Associate Professor Math College of Arts & Sciences
2001 - 02 Jackie Pflaum, Associate Professor Nursing Health, Educ, Social Welfare
2000 - 01 Jim Liszka, Professor Philosophy College of Arts & Sciences
1999 - 00 Lauren Bruce, Associate Professor Communications College of Arts & Sciences
1998 - 99 Lauren Bruce, Associate Professor Communications College of Arts & Sciences
1997 - 98 Barbara Harville, Assistant Professor Communications College of Arts & Sciences
1996 - 97 Barbara Harville, Assistant Professor Communications College of Arts & Sciences
1995 - 96 Cheryl Mann, Assistant Professor Human Services Health Sciences
1994 - 95 Diane Owens, Associate Professor Adult Education CCCE
1993 - 94 Toni Croft, Assistant Professor Developmental Education CCCE
1992 - 93 Len Smiley, Associate Professor Mathematical Sciences College of Arts & Sciences
1991 - 92 Betsy Boze, Associate Professor Business Administration Business
1990 - 91 Jackie Pflaum, Associate Professor Nursing Health Sciences
1989 - 90 Joe Connors, Professor Speech College of Arts & Sciences
1988 - 89 Joe Connors, Professor Speech College of Arts & Sciences
1987 - 88 Stephen Norrell, Professor Biological Sciences College of Arts & Sciences
1986 - 87 Nancy Schafer, Asst. Professor (moved to President) Justice Justice
  Marvin Loflin, Professor (resigned in September 1986) Anthropology College of Arts & Sciences
1985 - 86 Marvin Loflin, Professor Anthropology College of Arts & Sciences
1984 - 85 Jack Peterson, Professor Sociology College of Arts & Sciences
1983 - 84 Tina DeLapp (Professor Emeritus) Nursing Health Sciences
1982 - 83 Ted Eschenbach (Professor Emeritus) Engineering Management Engineering
1981 - 82 Jim Wilson, Professor English College of Arts & Sciences
1980 - 81 Jim Hotchkiss, Professor Education Education
1979 - 80 Diddy Hitchins, Associate Professor Political Science Business & Public Admin
1978 - 79 Peter Ring, Assoc. Professor, Director for Research Justice Justice Center