A history of liberal arts in service to student-centered learning
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2009, Anchorage-based Alaska Pacific University is a four-year liberal arts school on a 170-acre wooded main campus near the foothills of the Chugach Mountains. The 700-acre Kellogg campus 45 miles east of Anchorage serves as the university’s environmental learning center and is home to Spring Creek Farm APU’s community service agriculture project.
The university welcomed its first students in 1960, one year after Alaska became a state. The school operated until 1978 as Alaska Methodist University, a church outreach aimed in part at fostering higher education for Alaska Native people. Restructured and renamed in 1978, non-denominational Alaska Pacific University today retains its commitment to Alaska Native education and fosters development of spiritual and moral values for all students, faculty and staff consistent with APU’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
APU attracts students from around Alaska, the United States and the world. The university offers two-year, four-year, master’s and doctorate level programs. Intentionally small class sizes underscore APU’s commitment to student-centered, experiential learning that emphasizes rigorous academics and challenging field work in the arts and sciences.
APU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. APU is a founding member of the Eco-League, a nationwide student exchange program of schools with strong programs in environmental science and studies; outdoor studies; marine biology; and other disciplines focusing on the natural world.
Roughly 74 percent of APU students receive financial aid, including endowment-based and department-specific scholarships. Some 40 percent of APU students are from states outside Alaska, contributing to a diverse on-campus community that includes student-led clubs and a regional Olympic training center for cross-country skiers. Adult learners are attracted to the university’s eLearning degree programs in areas such as the master’s degree in business administration.
Adhering to a founding commitment to help Alaskans achieve higher education that contributes to Alaska’s well-being, APU today emphasizes teaching and research that engages the region’s social, cultural, environmental and geopolitical issues. The university’s Early Honors program attracts academically advanced high school students who complete their senior year credits while also earning college credits as full-time APU students.