UA Foundation Statement on the Death of Edward B. Rasmuson

At the root of philanthropy is a love of humankind, and Ed Rasmuson’s love for his fellow Alaskans can be seen throughout the University of Alaska system’s three universities. At UAA, UAF and UAS, the impact of Ed’s philanthropy is widely felt.

As we mourn Ed’s death, it is with deep respect, admiration and gratitude that we reflect upon the tremendous impact that his philanthropy had on UA’s students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Ed was a third generation Alaskan, business leader and philanthropist. He was chairman emeritus of the family foundation established by his grandmother in 1955, and served as a UA Foundation board member from 1987 until 1997.

Throughout his life, Ed and his wife Cathy supported the UA system to help Alaska develop its own talent, manage its own resources, and chart a prosperous future that preserved Alaska’s storied history, diverse cultures and unique way of life.

As chair of Rasmuson Foundation’s board of directors, and with Cathy as vice chair, Ed oversaw more than $30 million in grants to our universities that advanced programs, supported research, improved facilities, and empowered creative expression. The UAA business and public policy building that bears the Edward and Cathryn Rasmuson name is a visible example of their impact.

Perhaps less visible, but no less important are the hundreds of grants and gifts to the UA system that supported projects such as these:

  • Faculty research including an analysis of Alaska’s state budget, a study on education models of the seafood industry, research on factors influencing personal philanthropy, and a study of Mt. Edgecumbe High School alumni.
  • Support for academic programs, institutes and facilities including ANSEP and ISER at UAA and the undergraduate fisheries program at UAF. Facility and capital improvements including equipment for the seawater lab and Native Language Lab at UAS, expansion of the Bristol Bay campus, facility improvements at both the Kenai and Kuskokwim campuses, trail construction projects at the Ketchikan and Juneau campuses, and support for student-athletes and the debate team.
  • Support for dozens of University of Alaska Press publications including a history of the Treadwell boomtown, an underwater photo journey of Aleutian sea life, and a history of Russians in Alaska.
  • Support for university arts education, events and facilities including a digital organ and dance studio flooring in Anchorage, a mural project in Fairbanks, an arts festival on the Mat-Su campus, a literary festival at the Kachemak Bay Campus, and a sculpture at UAS. The Rasmusons also directed robust support for exhibits and facility improvements to UAF’s Museum of the North.
  • Facilities, technology and collections for university libraries also benefited, including the development of SLED (Statewide Library Electronic Doorway), shelving for the Chukchi Campus, and 850 books to enhance the Kuskokwim Campus Library Collection. Our libraries have been able to preserve and provide access to important historical archives including films, audio recordings, photographs, oral histories, and papers of leading Alaskans.

This is just a small selection of Rasmuson Foundation grants received to support UAA, UAF and UAS. I encourage you to browse for a complete list.

Ed’s leadership and philanthropy forever changed Alaska’s three public universities and positively influenced the lives of tens of thousands of students. As a result, the Alaska he loved is more vibrant today and for the future.

We join so many Alaskans in sending our condolences to Cathy, Ed’s family, and to all who loved him back.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett
University of Alaska Foundation