Northwest Campus provides excellent opportunities for academic, vocational, and community education to the Bering Strait Region.
Northwest Campus will provide programs to meet our students' personal and educational goals and to contribute to the success of our communities.
Respect for Diversity
Life Long Learning
NWC Advisory Council on September 19, 2006
Northwest Community College was created by an act of the state legislature in 1976, when the college began offering classes.
In 1987, Northwest Community College became a branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was renamed UAF Northwest Campus. Though now affiliated with a preeminent research institution, Northwest Campus has kept its community college mission as a foremost goal.
The organization of UAF's rural campuses into their own college, the College of Rural and Community Development, and the priority that UAF gave to the development of a cross-regional network and a highly qualified instructional faculty have been critical to NWC's continued viability. The mission of Northwest Campus and UAF's College of Rural and Community Development is to provide higher education to the people of the
Bering Straits Region and to other rural regions through telecommunications links.
UAF Northwest Campus serves 15 Alaska Native villages in the surrounding 36,000 square miles, an area the size of the state of Indiana.
The majority of the region's population is Inuit and resides in villages across the Seward Peninsula. NWC and its service villages are entirely off the road system requiring commercial airline or private charter for the majority of travel, even between villages. The nearest major airport is in Anchorage, 550 air miles from Nome. Travel to or from the villages requires an additional flight in and out of Nome via small commercial aircrafts.
In the winter, some villagers brave the Arctic night and travel on snow machine from village to village. This is risky at best since several deaths per year are attributed to persons getting lost or breaking down short of their destination.
Therefore, attending college in the traditional sense is out of the question for most residents of the Seward Peninsula, with distances up to 125 air miles separating Northwest Campus from regional villages.
Subsistence living, surviving off the land and sea, remains a significant part of the regional culture and is taken seriously by the Alaska Native people. Every summer, extended Alaska Native families gather together to fish, hunt and gather edible vegetation from the Arctic environment. The collected food is then preserved and saved for the winter months, a time of year when movement is made extremely difficult due to the prolonged hours of darkness and continual sub-zero temperatures. Much of what is preserved is distributed to elders who can no longer participate in the subsistence activities.
Today, the subsistence lifestyle can no longer provide adequately for the Alaska Native family as communities become increasingly more reliant on cash-based economies. The typical village male can find gainful employment only during the short summer work season which conflicts with subsistence activities. The dramatic rate of poverty, which is reflected in the 75% to 85% unemployment rate in most villages, would even be even higher without the infusion of cash from summer employment.
For more information about western Alaska, visit some of the sites listed below.