University Land Grant

Congress resolves UA’s long-time land grant deficit

Over winter break, the university received word that Congress passed legislation to grant the university 360,000 acres of land to fulfill our land grant allotment. The law, signed by President Biden in December 2022, establishes a framework for the university to work with the state Dept. of Natural Resources to jointly identify up to 500,000 acres of federal land to be conveyed to the state. It requires the Bureau of Land Management to survey the selection and work with UA to transfer up to 360,000 acres of state land to the university. The UA Lands office already has selected 200,000 acres and provided the selection to DNR for review. The acreage ultimately transferred to UA will be deducted from Alaska’s outstanding statehood lands entitlement and managed by the UA for the benefit of our students and to further meet our mission of teaching, research and workforce development for Alaska. 

Historically, the UA Lands office earns revenue from the university’s existing acreage that includes real estate, timber sales, mining, gravel sales and other activities. Income from UA’s lands has funded the highly successful UA Scholars Program, awarding $12,000 scholarships to the top 10 percent of graduates from each Alaska high school who attend UA. Land earnings have also supported teaching and research in natural resources, fisheries/ocean science, biology, agriculture, minerals, and education. 

As with many land issues in Alaska, original congressional intent to convey lands to the university has been eroded by a complex history of federal laws and adverse court rulings. As a result, the University of Alaska has one of the smallest allotments of any land grant institution. With the passage of this act, the university system, working with the state, now has four years to jointly select the land parcels that will be conveyed to the university to fulfill the unmet land grant. 

In a recent statement, UA President Pat Pitney concluded “We are most grateful to Senator Lisa Murkowski who is responsible for this tremendous outcome. I also want to thank Representative Mary Peltola and Governor Dunleavy for their leadership on this issue and Sen. Dan Sullivan for his support of the UA Fiscal Foundation Act. I also want to recognize the bipartisan backing we’ve had from our Alaska businesses, organizations, and state leaders who advocated for this positive outcome. [...] I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this long-standing effort including our federal relations team, general counsel’s office, UA Land office and the hard work of many staff to find a solution to the long-standing land deficit.” 


Board of Regents Resolution of Support for the University of Alaska Land Grant Conveyance -
January 18, 2021 - PDF

Lisa Murkowski, chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,  podcast on the UA land grant - Dec. 14, 2020 - LISTEN

Read a White Paper on UA's Land Grant history.

Land Grant deficit

The University of Alaska is a "land grant" university in name more than in fact. The university currently owns just 150, 700 acres of land, of which about 12,000 acres are used for educational or research facilities, with the remainder intended for investments or revenues. Only Delaware received a smaller land grant than Alaska. 

We estimate the University of Alaska is still owed approximately 360,000 acres of land from its historic entitlements. We're working with the state and federal government to try to bring final resolution to the university's land grant deficit.