What are the best colleges and universities in Alaska if you reward schools for making the best use of their limited resources? Academic Stewardship asks how effectively schools manage their financial and human resources to gain the influence that makes them academically excellent. Schools that are exemplary in Academic Stewardship are doing everything in their power to help students and faculty achieve their full potential.
Colleges and universities in Alaska deserve to be recognized when they do more with less. It’s impressive when a large wealthy school can spend money lavishly on expensive buildings and programs. But it’s even more impressive when a small school with limited means is able to train and inspire students that the larger wealthier schools tend to ignore.
The American Association of Colleges and Universities reported in late 2021 that almost 75 percent of higher-education professionals at US colleges and universities felt financial constraints prevented their schools from effectively attracting students. Distracted by the size and amenities of larger schools, prospective students tended especially to be overawed by the big research universities.
Alaska’s smaller colleges, especially its liberal arts colleges, need effective ways of communicating their value to a world that celebrates “bigger is better” and “you need the best.” Unfortunately, most college ranking companies, such as U.S. News & World Report, define “best” in a way that devalues schools with smaller budgets and fewer students even when these schools do remarkable work in advancing their students’ education. By and large, college rankings penalize schools that serve underserved populations.
Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, who for years now has criticized conventional college rankings for misrepresenting what’s good and valuable in education, we decided to construct a new ranking metric that highlights those schools that do more with less. That metric—called the Academic Stewardship metric—takes away both the size and the wealth advantage of schools, and focuses instead on how well schools use the resources available to them to advance the education of their students.
As a metric, Academic Stewardship is defined by a precise mathematical formula, which can be found in our Academic Stewardship white paper. Measuring the Academic Stewardship of Alaska’s colleges requires measuring two forms of stewardship: 1) Stewardship of financial resources (using the money they have responsibility without waste) and 2) Stewardship of human resources (doing their best to help students, faculty, and administration to flourish). Together, these two types of stewardship form what we call Academic Stewardship. If you want to learn more about the factors involved in Academic Stewardship, click the more button below.
Academic Stewardship as so defined is connected to keeping tuition and other costs down, but it should not be confused with affordability or frugality. The schools that this metric ranks as exemplary academic stewards tend to be all over the map when it comes to tuition and other costs. At issue is the influence of schools given the financial and human resources they have on hand. If a school is going to charge more for tuition, then that needs to be reflected in the school having proportionately greater influence.
The benefits of attending a school with strong academic stewardship include:
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University of Alaska Fairbanks’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
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University of Alaska Anchorage’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
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University of Alaska Southeast’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
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Alaska Pacific University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The six colleges and universities in Alaska are largely located near Anchorage and Fairbanks, two of the state’s largest cities. However, the University of Alaska Southeast houses campuses in the island towns of Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka. Also, 2 universities in Alaska offer online degrees for students in more remote areas, or anywhere. While the tuition for Alaska’s largest universities, the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, offer competitive rates of $8,000-$9,000, the University of Alaska Anchorage’s student population is nearly twice the size, with nearly 11,000 students. This state also offers two private colleges, both with religious backgrounds, in Alaska Pacific University and Alaska Bible College.
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Those hoping to truly immerse themselves in Alaska’s wilderness may want to consider attending Iḷisaġvik College, which is a tribally-owned community college located in Barrow, the northernmost point in Alaska. Many of the degrees students pursue in Alaska fall in the science and social science fields, but students also have the option to obtain on-campus or online degrees in areas like religious studies, education, and liberal arts.
Alaska’s landscape is as vast as its history. The massive glaciers, thousands of miles of coastline, our country’s highest mountain peak, and wildlife that live among the people are only some of the features that have helped earn this state its nickname, The Last Frontier. Though there are numerous online degree programs in Alaska, students aspiring to see caribou in person or witness the Northern Lights may want to get their degree on one of Alaska’s sprawling college campuses.
Fortunately, a number of colleges in Alaska offer hybrid degree options, where you can take some online courses and some courses on campus.
For students hoping for a mix of adventure and education, learn more about Alaska’s higher education institutes, degree options, online degree programs, and top career paths.