Fairbanks makes Top 10 list of great university towns


The University of Alaska Fairbanks may not have football frenzy like the University of Florida, but it makes the Top 10 list of great university towns in a list published by MarketWatch.com.

That’s along with college towns, such as Corvallis, Ore., home of Oregon State University; and Ithaca, N.Y., where Cornell University is located.

It’s possible that MarketWatch had not heard about the funding woes of Alaska’s university system. Or that fact that from 2013 to 2018, UAF had a decline of 17,000 credit hours (or 21.8 percent, and a decline of 1,878 students.) The listing even talks about how great hockey is at UAF. Ouch, that one hurts.

The MarketWatch report gives Fairbanks a lot of love for being a “cool college community.” And it comes at a time when the school could use a little love. Here’s what the report says:

Why it’s a great place to go to college: People have to stick together in Alaska, and that same sense of community and teamwork carries through to students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, home of the Nanooks. It’s a small school with a little more than 8,300 students, so you’ll really get to know your classmates and your professors (the student-faculty ratio is an impressive 11 to 1). When you’re not studying, you can explore the vast Alaskan wilderness that’s literally right outside your door, check out the local contemporary art scene or participate in the dozens of annual community events here.

“You really get that college town feel in Fairbanks. Everything is spread out enough to feel a little bigger than it is, but also small enough to feel like you’re part of the community,” says UAF student Lillian Marrero. ”People care about your education. Most local businesses are huge supporters of the university itself. You really feel like you’re a part of something and supported by the people of Fairbanks.”

Why you should put down roots here (even after graduation): Fairbanks is home to 32,000 people, but it has many of the perks of a bigger city — and then some. Plus, if you love the idea of immersing yourself in nature, Fairbanks has so much to offer. The city’s top-notch infrastructure, amenities and housing options also helped it land a spot on Livability’s list of 2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live.

Coolest campus tradition: The “40 Below Club.” When the temperature drops to 40 below (or colder), you’ll see a line of cars pulled over next to a sign at the entrance of campus that shows the time and temperature. Students pose for pictures in front of the sign in bathing suits or their underwear.

Best place to get out and about: North Campus, which spans 1,100 acres and is home to more than 25 miles of trails for walking, jogging, biking and cross-country skiing. It’s also a popular spot to forage for berries or wild mushrooms. You’re likely to see a moose or two here, too.

Best fourth meal: Oasis Restaurant and Lounge

Place to be on a Saturday night: In the winter, looking up at the sky to see the incredible colors of the aurora borealis.

Beloved brewery: HooDoo Brewing Co.

Best bookstore (for non-textbooks): Forget-Me-Not Books

Favorite coffee shop study spot: Alaska Coffee Roasting Co., though in reality, the people of Fairbanks would rather get their coffee to go — there are at least five drive-through coffee huts within a mile of campus!

Local dream job: Researcher at the International Arctic Research Center, where scientists seek to understand how climate change is affecting the Arctic.

What keeps alumni coming back: The gorgeous (and, at times, brutal) landscape, as well as the annual Governor’s Cup hockey series that pits the Nanooks against in-state rivals, the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves.

[To see the rest of the MarketWatch report on best college towns, click here.]


  1. I quit paying my alumni dues years ago. UAF used to teach reasoning and critical thinking skills. Now the professors brainwash with political correctness garbage. Third rate school all around. One of my former professors at the Liberal Arts Department told me that her students today do not know how to write well, and can’t concentrate in class. I used to sit through one of Terrence Cole’s History classes and almost puked. The guy is a wacked-out twitcher with terrible speaking skills and a brain full of Marxist ideology. I dropped his class. UAF is good for a cheap degree and a job with the state. Otherwise, it would be better to go elsewhere where the winter doesn’t last for 7 months.

    • Very sad commentary. What was once a proud little campus on the hill, with professors striving to teach young adults to think for themselves, has morphed into an institution of over-bloated wages and bureaucracy and a mill for political correctness runamuck and bunches of whiners and ingrates.

  2. Could it be(?), with the vast amounts of discretionary funds available, that the UAF system bought a placement on The List?

  3. Anyone or any entity can paint a picture for those who cannot see but no one can describe and have others accept the “swindle” that Johnsen, Davis and staff has done to the public, students, parents and those who disagreed with his extortion, theft and loss of truth.

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