As the first land grant college in the state, the University of Alaska Fairbanks has an important role in its educational history. While it’s most established in Fairbanks, UAF also operates several rural campuses in locations such as Dillingham, Bethel, and Nome. KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has the details on a new person who will administer these campuses.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced that Evon Peter is its new Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education. A UAF alumnus from 1998, Peter graduated with a bachelor’s in Alaska Native studies. In accepting the job, Peter said he felt it was a way to give back.
“It really is a place that I appreciate what it is that the University offers throughout the state, especially to rural and native students, and how I’ve been able to benefit from the education that I’ve received here, and this is a way in which I’m able to give back.”
Peter’s responsibilities will include advocating for native education as well as heading the College of Rural and Community Development. This institution runs all of UAF’s rural campuses, including the Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham. Peter’s first job was working as coordinator for UAF’s Yukon Flats Center, and he says that past experience, along with his work with various native organizations and nonprofits, will help develop new ideas.
"I have a lot of experience on the ground, providing programs and offering services in rural Alaska, and also, I’m helping to serve as a kind of sounding board for some of the ideas and innovations they want to move forward with in the development of their programs as well, so, I’m excited to be serving in that way."
When asked about the hardest part of the job, Peter said the biggest was budget cuts to higher education as a whole. However, he said a greater challenge was focusing rural education toward the unique needs of a rural community.
“Coming from a village and doing a lot of work in rural Alaska myself, I know some of the challenges firsthand to obtaining a higher education, especially when you’re in a situation as being an income earner for a family, taking care of children, which is the case for a lot of the students we have. Making sure that our programs are accessible and relevant and providing education and training that helps people to become employable or to move up the ladder in their own current employment and career track is, I think, just really important.”
Additional information on Peter, as well as the rural campuses, can be found at the website of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.