Public Affairs

February 03, 2006

Constitution Symposium Available on the Web

For Immediate Release
Feb. 3, 2006

Alaskans across the state will be able to view a special anniversary symposium about Alaska’s constitution via the Internet on Saturday afternoon.  Fairbanks residents and visitors are invited to attend the free symposium in person, as well as a special pre-broadcast showing of a new television documentary about Alaska’s struggle to become a state.

Alaska’s Constitutional Convention, held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) 50 years ago, was a key step toward statehood. The symposium will be held from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at UAF’s Schaible Auditorium. Panels of more than a dozen leaders and historians will look back at how Alaska’s constitution was developed and what it means for Alaska today. Gov.  Frank Murkowski will deliver opening remarks at the symposium. Constitutional Convention delegates Jack Coghill, Victor Fischer, and George Sundborg Sr., Constitutional Convention staff and consultants, historians and others will participate. This will be a rare opportunity to meet creators of the constitution and hear personal reflections from Alaska leaders on Alaska’s statehood struggle. Among others, former Gov. Bill Sheffield and former Territorial Gov. Mike Stepovich will attend the symposium. Alaskans unable to attend in person can view the proceedings on the university’s website at http://www.uaf.edu/news/webcasts.

The university’s Creating Alaska project, sponsor of a series of events around the state commemorating the constitution’s 50th anniversary, also invites the public to the debut showing of a new television documentary about Alaska’s Constitutional Convention and the road to statehood, The 49th Star: Creating Alaska. The free showing at UAF’s Davis Concert Hall at 8 p.m. will be followed by a free public reception at the UAF Regents Great Hall. This will be an opportunity to meet creators of the Alaska Constitution and view a museum display about its creation and statehood.  Cake and coffee will be served.

The 49th Star, produced by public television station KUAC at UAF, chronicles a great story of American democracy – an account of 55 people who gathered for 75 days to create the foundation for a new state government. The elected delegates represented communities across Alaska. Creativity, compromise and consensus, combined with days and nights of discussion, argument and passionate debate, produced a constitution widely considered one of the best ever written.

The hour-long documentary will premiere on public television stations statewide at 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, the anniversary of the close of the Constitutional Convention 50 years ago.

People who attend the public events at UAF this weekend will receive a free copy of Alaska’s constitution.

To learn more about the university’s Creating Alaska project or the state constitution, visit www.alaska.edu/creatingalaska.
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For more information, contact Patti Harper at (907)301-4202 or patricia.harper@alaska.edu.

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