The gavel and signature book from the Council of UArctic's First Meeting

About 200 people gathered together in Rovaniemi Finland on that day to celebrate the launch of the "university without walls". The milestone marked four years of hard work and dedication to make UArctic come into existence. The new Chair of the Council of UArctic, Sally Webber, spoke to the crowd about the long dream of creating a circumpolar university. With the final words of her speech, she changed this dream into a reality, officially.

"Therefore, with this dream at its heart, I now declare the University of the Arctic open!" she said.

This year, UArctic is reaching another milestone. UArctic's turns five years old this year, and once again UArctic is preparing to celebrate all of its accomplishments. The anniversary will be celebrated at the Council of UArctic meeting in Bodø Norway on June 13.

Sally Webber speaks to the Crowd at the Council of the University of the Arctic Meeting in Rovaniemi Finland in June 2001

"In five short years we have grown from an academic cooperation to an educational community," says Webber, who recently stepped down as Chair of the Council of UArctic. "Our students now circle the North, and we have begun to create a new generation of leaders for this great global region."


Lots of Growth in Little Time

Since the 2001 launch, UArctic has grown substantially. The organization now has 90 members from across the Circumpolar North, with 15 more likely to be accepted in the Bodo meeting, along with 13 programs. In addition to the International Secretariat established in Rovaniemi, Finland already during the development phase, UArctic now has nine other offices. UArctic's two flagship programs, the Circumpolar Studies (BCS) Program and the north2north student mobility program, have had large student involvement since their inception. BCS has received so far 1300 student registrations since 2001, while north2north has sent 236 students on exchanges across the Circumpolar North since 2002.

The Chair of UArctic's Board of Governors, Oran Young, says this growth is evidence of UArctic's success as an organization.

"Institution building is a slow process. But just five years after its inception, the University of the Arctic has entered a period of sustained growth," says Young.

Many Accomplishments to Celebrate in 2006

Along with its five year anniversary, UArctic will also have several other milestones this year. UArctic is launching its newly redesigned website to go hand in hand with the launch of a new online course catalogue next month. Both of these projects serve also UArctic's newest program called GoNorth, which allows students from non-UArctic member institutions to live and learn in the North. This program, along with the catalogue, show the continuing strength of the organization, says UArctic's Director.

"We are proud of what we have accomplished in five short years," says UArctic Director Lars Kullerud. "This year has been UArctic's strongest to date, and we are confident that we will continue to grow and build on our successes so far."

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