Howard Cutler was chancellor from 1975-1981; the first chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks after the university became a statewide system.
Born in Webster City, Iowa, on April 27, 1918, Cutler worked his way through the University of Iowa (UI) as a cook, gardener, housekeeper and chauffeur. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Iowa in 1940 and received a master’s degree in economics a year later.
Cutler’s UI master’s thesis was the first in the history of the university’s economics department to be published in a national journal.
From 1943-1946, Cutler served in the U.S. Navy in Guam and Saipan as a supply and disbursing officer.
In 1943, Cutler received a certificate of graduation from Harvard University and in 1953 received his doctorate in economics from Columbia University.
He began his teaching career in 1946 as an instructor of economics at UI and has held faculty positions in economics at the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago and Penn State University.
Former UA President William Wood, also a University of Iowa graduate, appointed Cutler in 1962 to the post of vice president for academic affairs for the University of Alaska, a position he held until 1966.
From 1966 to 1976, Cutler served as senior vice president of the Institute of International Education in New York City. The institute administers foreign exchange programs including Fulbright grants.
In 1976, Cutler returned to Fairbanks as chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His return to Alaska was requested by more than 100 members of the Fairbanks business community, all of whom had signed a petition supporting his appointment as UAF’s first chancellor.
Cutler was a prolific contributor to academic and economic journals. He served as managing editor of The Journal of General Education from 1960-1962 and contributed articles to major publications throughout his lifetime. academic and economic journals. He served as managing editor of The Journal of General Education from 1960-1962 and contributed articles to major publications throughout his lifetime.
Stricken with Parkinson’s disease in 1981, Cutler remained active in community and university affairs until his death.
His expertise in economics and academics was sought by committees, boards and advisory councils nationally and internationally. He also was a world traveler, visiting nearly every continent on the globe.
In 1981, Cutler assumed the position of Regent’s Professor of Economics at UAF. At UAF’s 1983 Commencement, the university conferred upon him the rank of Chancellor Emeritus and Regent’s Professor of Economics, Emeritus. The Howard Cutler Award for Excellence in Economic Education was established in his honor and is given annually to Alaskan teachers in primary and secondary education.
In 1989, Cutler was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award by the University of Iowa Alumni Association, which described him as “a common man with an uncommon touch.” The University of Iowa recognized Cutler for his work to pioneer higher education in Alaska.
Stricken with Parkinson's disease in 1981, Cutler remained active in community and university affairs until his death on November 17, 1995.