UA celebrates Women's History Month

In recognition of Women’s History Month, the University of Alaska would like to celebrate all the women students, staff, faculty and leadership that continue to drive our university system forward to a more inclusive and equitable institution. 

The University of Alaska is full of brilliant women across all disciplines, from engineering and nursing to the arts and humanities. This month, and every day, we celebrate all of the women who are part of the UA community and who strengthen UA excellence, innovation and advancement every day.

In recent years, the University of Alaska has seen women in leadership positions across the UA system, from the president’s office and chair of the UA Board of Regents currently, all the way down to chancellors, vice chancellors, deans and faculty. 

As we close out this month-long celebration, we call attention to several of the many women who have played a pivotal role in the university’s history and success:

  • Harriet Hess was one of the original members of the university’s board of trustees and in 1935 when the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines became the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she became the only female member of the Board of Regents. Harriet served as a regent until her death in 1951. In 1915, Harriet accompanied Judge James Wickersham on a site scout for the new university. It was Harriet who tied a handkerchief on a tree to mark the spot for the future cornerstone for the new college. Hess Village on the UAF campus was named in her and her husband Luthur’s honor.
  • Margaret Murie was the first woman graduate in 1924 of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, which eventually became the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Throughout her long and prodigious life, Margaret Murie accomplished much, but became best known for her work as a naturalist and author. We remember and celebrate Murie as one of the founders of the conservation movement in the United States, instrumental in the passage of the Wilderness Act and in the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife. In 2012, the University Board of Regents voted to rename the UAF Life Sciences Building in honor of Margaret Murie.
  • Flora Jane Harper was the first Native Alaska graduate from Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. In 1935 she earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics and became a teacher and a role model for many women throughout the state. An early donor to the university, Harper helped struggling Native Alaska students attending the university by sending checks to the Office of Rural Student Services. Her donations were distributed from an "emergency fund” set up to distribute her financial gifts. In 1994 the University of Alaska Fairbanks named the Harper Building after her.

The university is full of strong women who continue to make our education system a better place each day. 

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