The convergence of two events 100 years ago in Fairbanks set the stage for a unique day of centennial celebrations at UAF this past summer.
Back in 1915, Alaska’s territorial delegate to Congress, James Wickersham, spent July 4 dedicating a cornerstone for the college he hoped would be built here. The following two days, Wickersham met with indigenous chiefs from the Tanana River region.
One hundred years later, on July 6, the university staged a reconvergence by rededicating the cornerstone and celebrating an initiative to honor Alaska’s Native peoples and anchor indigenous studies in a new center. These were the first major public events leading up to the 2017 centennial commemoration of the university’s formal establishment by the territorial legislature in 1917.
The day began at Troth Yeddha’ Park, which takes its title from the Athabascan name for the ridge on which the university sits. Hundreds of people gathered to hear leaders speak about the significance of the park and center.
“Today we celebrate coming together as a community and working side by side,” said Evon Peter ’98, vice chancellor for rural, community and Native education and a former Arctic Village chief.
After the Troth Yeddha’ event, the crowd walked from the park to Cornerstone Plaza for the rededication. The day was hot, as it was for 1915’s dedication.
Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, UA Regent Jo Heckman ’79, ’85 and several others spoke about the university’s value to the state. Chancellor Brian Rogers said the university provides a foundation for progress in Alaska, and the cornerstone symbolizes that role.
“The cornerstone represents hopes, reminds us of the audacity and fortitude of the people who started this university 100 years ago, dreaming one day that their children and children’s children would have a place where free thinking, exploration and inquiry would enrich their lives,” Rogers told the crowd. “So may this cornerstone also represent our commitment to those ideals as the university enters its second century, and to that purpose I hereby rededicate our cornerstone at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.”
— Chancellor Brian Rogers
Web extra: See more photos from the rededication event.