The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is the nation’s northernmost Land, Sea and Space Grant university and is a student-centered international research center, advancing and disseminating knowledge through teaching, research, and public service with an emphasis on Alaska, the circumpolar North, and their diverse peoples. Founded in 1917, UAF provides a full range of higher education programs from certificate to PhD to nearly 10,000 students, about 1400 of whom live in on-campus housing. Fairbanks – located in the Interior of Alaska about 350 miles north of Anchorage and 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle – is often referred to as the Golden Heart of Alaska due to its mining history. Fairbanks is a glorious vacation destination in the summer and a magical wonderland in the winter.

The Position

Responsibilities of the Position

The director of athletics provides vision, strategic direction, and administrative leadership, for a highly competitive intercollegiate athletics program. Reporting to the vice chancellor for student affairs, the director fosters principles and programs that encourage integrity, student well-being, diversity, and inclusiveness throughout all levels of the organization while promoting an environment of excellence and success. Consistent with university priorities, the director will develop, implement, and monitor a strategic plan for the department that promotes best practice and addresses personnel development, budgeting and financial management, facility renovation and enhancement, equipment renewal, alumni and public relations, and compliance and regulatory expectations while advancing a high level of integration of athletics and recreation into the overall student experience. The director will work collaboratively with development officers to endow student-athlete scholarships, raise capital campaign funds for the construction of new and renovated sports and recreation facilities, and generate support for programmatic and facility operations.

Characteristics of the Successful Candidate

A master’s degree required (terminal degree preferred); five years of successful management, supervision, and leadership in athletics; a demonstrated knowledge of NCAA, GNAC, WCHA rules and regulations; a demonstrated commitment to a program of academic and athletic excellence, and experience in fiscal planning and budget management. Further, the successful candidate will have demonstrated experience in the following areas: strategic planning and its implementation; donor development and fundraising; public relations; fiscal planning and budget management; building strong community relations; strategic and business planning, and expertise in diversity, inclusion, gender equity, and Title IX.

Additionally, as articulated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks stakeholders, the successful candidate will ideally possess the following qualities and attributes:

  • a significant understanding of NCAA Division I and Division II athletics in terms of program needs, compliance requirements, competition demands, and student-athlete development;
  • a visible champion and advocate for the coaching staff and athletic programs;
  • an effective ambassador for athletics and liaison with student affairs, academic affairs, admissions, and development and alumni relations;
  • able to readily establish a comfortable rapport with staff, students, corporate sponsors, donors, senior officers, alumni, faculty, and other key constituents;
  • promote excellence, respect tradition, and support success;
  • strong strategic-planning skills and an ability to build consensus and support for short- and long-term goals;
  • highly collaborative and adaptable, equipped to respond to changing dynamics as circumstances dictate;
  • superior recruiting and talent-management skills;
  • motivating and inspiring others while projecting a calm, thoughtful, and passionate presence;
  • demonstrated success in diversity, equity, inclusion, and Title IX.
  • demonstrated experience and success working with a University Athletic Association (501) c-3 (Athletic Program)

“University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is creating an athletic program for the 21st century, with a strong DII program, our DI coed rifle program, and our DI hockey team. UAF Athletics is committed to growing its brand in the pursuit of excellence, and this is the time to join our dynamic staff. The community of Fairbanks embraces athletics and is ready to help UAF’s athletics department to excel. We look forward to building upon a strong foundation and commitment to the history of our athletics enterprise as we partner with our new AD to integrate into our community of Fairbanks and UAF. We will support and encourage our new athletics director to be bold, creative, and innovative.

Here is what I have learned in my time at UAF, The Nanook Way: it takes our entire community. This means it will take all of our internal and external stakeholders to build a successful, modern athletics program at UAF well into the future.” – Keith Champagne, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at University of Alaska Fairbanks

Likely opportunities, priorities, and challenges of the position

The Director of Athletics intentionally works to better integrate athletic programs into the broader university, whether through increasing fan participation at games/meets/competitions; expanding student-athletes’ service to the campus and surrounding community where possible; increasing the visibility of student-athletes and their accomplishments beyond the trophy cases; engaging administrative staff, coaches, trainers, and professionals in division-wide initiatives; and/or any number of other creative possibilities. The director can set and support the expectations for athletics personnel as well as student-athletes themselves to advance this goal.

Additional opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key university stakeholders, include the items listed below.

  • There is a need to develop a clear strategic plan and set of priorities for athletics which will address both immediate and longer-term facility, equipment, staffing, and fundraising opportunities. The plan will need to be substantiated with solid data and include specific metrics by which progress can be measured, socialized to garner support, and recognized by senior officers and the board of trustees as consistent with university strategic goals and vision.
  • The director must manage a complex network of relationships. Ensuring that communication flows effectively up, down, and across the university and that collaborative relationships are built and sustained with many institutional partners is critically important to success.

Measures of Success for the Position

At an appropriate interval after joining the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the following items will initially define success for the new Director of Athletics.

  • She or he will demonstrate a leadership style that is credible and collegial while being highly effective.
  • She or he will have reviewed organizational strengths and weaknesses and will have demonstrated the ability to manage short-term change and long-term development for the department.
  • She or he will have established strong working relationships and partnerships within the student affairs’ leadership team, direct reports, student-athletes, faculty, and key institutional stakeholders.
  • She or he will work towards sustaining competitive excellence across all teams with a goal of finishing in the top third of the conference as a matter of course.
  • She or he will have taken a leadership role on initiatives within her/his areas of responsibility.
  • The Director will have a high profile at UAF and must engage in dialogues with a broad range of constituents to build awareness of the issues facing athletics and the role the department plays in enhancing the student experience.
  • She or he will actively engage with Advancement to support fundraising initiatives aligned with the Athletics departmental and university strategic plans.
  • The Director will have demonstrated excellent communication and problem-solving skills, will have connected with key institutional and local stakeholders and will have developed a good sense of the mission, goals, and needs of UAF.
  • The director will have a demonstrated success in strategic planning, fundraising, business planning, and fiscal management.

Institution & Location

The Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines opened in 1922, in 1935 became the University of Alaska, and awarded its first PhD in 1955. In the first year, a faculty of six offered 16 classes to a student body of six. Commencement in 1923 consisted of a single graduate.

The University of Alaska had a significant role in the statehood movement of the 1950s, when the Constitutional Convention was held on campus. The Alaska Constitution was drafted in what is now Constitution Hall and signed in stately Signers’ Hall, now the home of UAF student service and administrative offices. Alaska became the nation’s 49th state in 1959.

Today, UAF is the world leader on Arctic research and the doctoral-granting institution in Alaska, offering PhD degrees in anthropology, several of the physical and natural sciences, mathematics, natural resources and sustainability, and engineering. Master’s degrees are offered in the humanities, natural resources management and geography, social sciences, northern studies, physical and natural sciences, and in professional fields such as engineering, justice, education and business administration. Interdisciplinary programs are possible for students who have a research focus in areas where UAF has faculty expertise and available research facilities.

To meet the need for expanding services for all Alaskans, the University of Alaska statewide system was created in 1975. Campuses in Anchorage and Juneau were assigned their own chancellors and central staffs, with the statewide administration and overall university president remaining in Fairbanks.

Meanwhile, the main campus in Fairbanks continued to expand and improve. The University of Alaska Museum of the North, one of the state’s most popular visitor attractions, moved into the Otto Geist Building in 1980. The museum’s unique collection offers the public a view of the rich and varied culture of the North. A $42 million expansion in 2006 added more than 40,000 square feet of space.

In 1981, UAF enrollment topped 5,000 students for the first time. The university also began to emphasize its shared scholarship and global education efforts in a series of agreements with schools in Japan, Denmark, Canada, People’s Republic of China, and Russia. The institution has branched out to include rural campuses in Bethel, Dillingham, McGrath, Kotzebue, Nome, and the Interior. Education centers in Fort Yukon, Galena, King Salmon, Nenana, Shishmaref, Togiak, Tok, Unalakleet, and Unalaska provide additional education services to rural Alaskans. Today UAF’s enrollment is over 9,700 undergraduate and graduate students.

Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city, sits on the banks of the Chena River in the heart of Alaska. From the UAF campus, the downtown district is easily accessible via the local bus system and a network of bike trails. The city is steeped in a history of riverboat captains and gold seekers. Its character has been shaped by a large military presence, construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the continuing oil economy, and a thriving university. It is a city where old quietly blends with new. Striking modern buildings sit side-by-side with log cabins built in the early part of the last century.

Fairbanks, 358 miles north of Anchorage (by way of the Parks Highway), likes to think that it (instead of Delta) is the end of the Alaska Highway. Its central location makes it the focal point for the tiny villages scattered throughout the surrounding wilderness, and Fairbanks is a staging point for North Slope villages such as Barrow and the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. Yet, unlike Anchorage, it still retains its down home “frontier” feel. It is contained within the North Star Borough, similar to a county, but roughly the size of New Jersey!

Alaska may be known for its harsh winter climate, but Fairbanksans prefer to enjoy their wonderful summers to the fullest while they can. The Interior has temperatures ranging from 65 degrees below zero in the winter to 90 degrees above in the summer. Gardening is big in the Interior.

Fairbanks is called “The Golden Heart of Alaska,” a reference to the character of her people as much as to the location in Alaska’s interior, or to the discovery of gold in 1902.

Because Fairbanks is just 188 miles south of the Arctic Circle (above which the sun neither sets during the summer solstice, nor rises during the winter solstice) we also have very long summer days. The shortest winter day of the year has less than three hours of sunlight, the longest (around June 21) never really ends, though officially it has over 21 hours.

For more information, visit the Chamber of Commerce website at


The University of Alaska Fairbanks is a Land, Sea, and Space Grant university and an international center for research, education, and the arts, emphasizing the circumpolar North and its diverse peoples. UAF integrates teaching, research, and public service as it educates students for active citizenship and prepares them for lifelong learning and careers.

UAF’s Core Themes

Educate: Undergraduate and Graduate Students and Lifelong Learners

Research: To Create and Disseminate New Knowledge, Insight, Technology, Artistic and Scholarly Works

Prepare: Alaska’s Career, Technical, and Professional Workforce

Connect: Alaska Native, Rural, and Urban Communities by Sharing Knowledge and Ways of Knowing

Engage: Alaskans through Outreach for Continuing Education and Community and Economic Development

UAF’s Key Messages

  1. We are Alaska’s research university and America’s arctic university
  2. We deliver a high-quality education at an affordable price.
  3. We enrich the lives of Alaskans and engage our communities, state, nation, and world through our teaching, research and service work.
  4. Our location defines us and provides transformational experiences, from the personal to the global.
  5. We are a welcoming and supportive community.

Daniel M. White, Chancellor

Daniel M. White has served as University of Alaska Fairbanks chancellor since July 2017. He previously served as University of Alaska vice president for academic affairs and research. He joined the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1995 as a professor of civil and environmental engineering. White has served in several positions at UAF, including director of the Institute of Northern Engineering, UAF associate vice chancellor for research and head of the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization and interim vice chancellor for research. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Washington University and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Notre Dame. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Alaska.

The Student Body

University of Alaska Fairbanks has a total enrollment of 8,720, with a gender distribution of roughly 41 percent male students and 58 percent female students. University of Alaska Fairbanks is part of the NCAA II athletic conference with Division I hockey. Students are enrolled from most Alaska communities, 49 other states, and 40 foreign countries. Other facts about the student body include the following:

  • First-years direct from high school: 65.8 percent
  • Undergraduate: 87.8 percent
  • Graduate: 12.2 percent
  • International: 2 percent
  • Female: 58 percent
  • Male: 41 percent
  • Unknown: 1 percent
  • Median age: 26
  • First-years living on Fairbanks campus:5 percent
  • (Hispanic ethnicity: 8 percent included in the reported races)

The six most popular majors of incoming first-years for Fall 2017:

  • General program/studies
  • Biological sciences
  • Pre-Nursing qualifications
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Business administration
  • Computer science

Academic Program

UAF has nine colleges and schools that offer 147 degrees and 31 certificates in 114 disciplines. The student-faculty ratio at University of Alaska Fairbanks is 11:1, and the school has 65.9 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at University of Alaska Fairbanks include: Engineering, Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Social Sciences and Psychology. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 76 percent.

UAF colleges and schools offer programs leading to occupational endorsements, certificates and associate, bachelors and master’s degrees in the arts, sciences, and professions. Doctoral programs are available in areas of particular strength, such as sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

  • College of Engineering and Mines
  • College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Natural Science and Mathematics
  • College of Rural and Community Development
  • Graduate School
  • School of Education
  • School of Management
  • School of Natural Resources and Extension

Overview of the Athletics Department

Philosophy of Varsity Athletics

Intercollegiate athletics is a multi-faceted entity at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The University has the challenge of balancing the benefits derived from competing at the Division I and II levels and maintaining the integrity of the student-athlete. The paramount function of our varsity sports program is to provide the student-athlete with an educational, social, and physical experience that closely emulates the mission of the University. The essence of the athletics experience must adhere to the principles of sportsmanship and ethical conduct (including fair play), rules compliance, and amateur athletics competition as defined by NCAA rules for athletics staff, student-athletes, and institutional personnel (Constitution 2). The physical, emotional and social welfare of the student-athlete including gender issues, ethnic diversity, and sexual orientation related issues will continuously be an essential aspect of the process.

Academic pursuit is the prime purpose of the University, and the athletics experience must at all times be a secondary component of this process. When the University of Alaska Fairbanks coaches recruit students, the priorities, in sequence, are academic ability, citizenship, and athletics talent. When the athlete does not measure up as a student, or fails to display responsible behavior, athletics talent will not be of consequence.

The University has chosen to compete at the Division I and II levels to maximize benefits that can be obtained with a successful athletics program. The pressures of having winning teams, producing revenue, and receiving wide media exposure are intense, but they are part of the Division I and II commitment. Successful athletic teams provide local, regional, and national publicity that benefit student recruitment, stimulate alumni pride, and enhance development.

UAF Department of Athletics is committed to equity and will continue to provide an environment that allows individuals to express themselves at their maximum potential.


Women’s Sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Volleyball
  • Rifle

Men’s Sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Ice Hockey
  • Skiing
  • Rifle


  • Alaska Airlines Court
  • E.F. Horton Rifle Range
  • Sports medicine
  • Varsity Weight Room
  • Carlson Center
    • Men’s Ice Hockey (Capacity 4,595)
      Olympic Ice Sheet (200’x100′)

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference


Located in five states and the province of Canada and with a strong presence in or near the largest city of each, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference has established itself as one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation during its 16-year history.

Founded in July 2001, GNAC teams have had a remarkable 95 NCAA Division II Top 10 national team finishes in 15 of the 16 sports that it sponsors.

The GNAC’s successes in 2016-17 were topped by the conference’s fourth national championship team. Western Washington’s women’s soccer program marched to an undefeated season and the Division II championship. The Vikings tied only their first match of the season before winning 24 straight and beating perennial power Grand Valley State in the national final.

Alaska Anchorage’s volleyball team finished a whisper from becoming the fifth GNAC national title team, winning a conference-record 34 matches and advancing to the Division II national championship final.

Three of the conference’s six top ten finishes came in cross country. The Alaska Anchorage men’s cross country team placed fifth at the national championships. The Simon Fraser women’s team placed sixth and the Seawolves’ women’s team placed seventh. During the winter, Western Oregon’s men tied for sixth place at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships, the best ever finish by a GNAC team in the meet.


In addition to the team successes, the GNAC received individual national championships in outdoor track and field from Northwest Nazarene’s Payton Lewis (men’s pole vault), Western Oregon’s David Ribich (men’s 1,500 meters), and Western Washington’s Bethany Drake (women’s javelin).

Western Washington’s title was the third for the conference in soccer. Former GNAC member Seattle University won the 2004 NCAA Division II men’s soccer national title before moving up to the Division I level. Seattle Pacific won the 2008 national championship in women’s soccer and was the national runner-up in 2005. The Vikings’ men’s basketball program claimed the 2012 Division II national title.

Also earning second-place national finishes have been Seattle Pacific in women’s soccer (2005), women’s basketball (2005) and women’s cross country (2007) and Western Washington in volleyball (2007).


GNAC athletes have also been successful academically, winning 76 GNAC CoSIDA Academic All-American awards. Nine of those came during the 2016-17 academic year.

Earning first team honors this past season was Alaska women’s basketball player Jordan Wilson, Alaska Anchorage track and field standout Jamie Ashcroft and Western Washington javelin national champion Bethany Drake. The three give the GNAC a total of 17 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Americans, which honor both academic and athletic achievement.



The GNAC’s 11 full-time members are located in one of the most picturesque areas of North America, covering five U.S. states and one Canadian province.

Representing the Evergreen State in the conference are Central Washington University, Saint Martin’s University, Seattle Pacific University and Western Washington University. All four schools are within 110 miles of Seattle, the state’s largest city.

Alaska is the home to GNAC members University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The only Canadian member in the NCAA is Simon Fraser University, which is located in Burnaby, B.C., a suburb of Canada’s third largest city, Vancouver.

Other conference members include Western Oregon University, which is a short drive from both the capital of Oregon (Salem) and the state’s largest city (Portland); Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, which is located near Idaho’s largest city and capital (Boise), and Montana State University Billings which is situated in the largest city in the Treasure State. The newest conference member is Concordia (Ore.), which is located in Portland. The Cavaliers began competing in the GNAC and Division II in the fall of 2015 and were approved for full Division II membership in 2017.

The GNAC also has a presence in California, as both Humboldt State and Azusa Pacific are affiliate members in the sport of football.

Humboldt State and Seattle University were charter members of the conference. Humboldt left the GNAC following the 2005-06 season to join the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) but remains in the conference as a football-playing member. Seattle University departed following the 2007-08 season to compete in NCAA Division I.

Organizational Structure of the Division 

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Benefits Overview

The University of Alaska Fairbanks prides itself on taking care of all employees, no matter where you may find yourself in the Last Frontier. As one of Alaska’s largest employers, UAF offers a full range of employee benefits including

  • Medical Care Program
  • Pharmacy Benefits
  • Dental Care
  • Vision Care
  • Pre-tax Spending Accounts
  • Life Insurance
  • Retirement Programs
  • Sick Leave and Leave Share Programs
  • Family Medical Leave
  • Long Term Disability
  • Educational Benefits, and other

For more information on UAF benefits, visit

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately until the position has been filled.

Visit the University of Alaska Fairbanks website at  

UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution.

Spelman Johnson has prepared this webpage based on personal interviews and information copied, compiled, or quoted in part from source documents obtained from our client institution, and as such, the contents of this document are believed to be reliable. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, the original source documents and factual situations govern, and the material presented here should be relied upon for informational purposes only.