ISER Celebrates 50 Years: April 13, 1961 – April 13, 2011
The second Alaska Legislature established the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), as part of the University of Alaska, on April 13, 1961. It became the first—and for a number of years, the only—public policy research organization in Alaska. This year, ISER is celebrating 50 years of studying the population and economy of Alaska and helping government, the private sector, and the people of Alaska better understand and deal with change. The twenty-seventh Alaska Legislature recently recognized ISER’s contributions to Alaska over the past half century.
ISER’s faculty and staff have studied every major public policy issue in Alaska since statehood, from the economic effects of the devastating 1964 earthquake in southcentral Alaska to the huge role oil plays in Alaska’s economy today. A critical part of ISER’s mission is making sure Alaskans benefits from ISER research—which is all available to the public. ISER research findings are widely disseminated to government agencies, private businesses, libraries, the press, and individual Alaskans. ISER faculty and staff also routinely do presentations to public and private groups around the state—and sometimes in other states and other countries. They also respond to inquiries from the press and the public, as well as teach classes.
ISER was originally part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and in the first years it operated with a full-time staff of two. Now, ISER has a staff of about 35 and for more than 30 years has been at the University of Alaska Anchorage. It is affiliated with UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy.
The 1961 legislative appropriation for ISER was $5,415. Today ISER has an average annual budget of about $3 million, but only about a third of that comes out of the legislature’s appropriation for the University of Alaska. ISER faculty and staff raise two-thirds of the budget through grants from and contracts with a wide range of public and private organizations— at the local, state, and national levels.
September update: Video of ISER’s 50th Celebration Panel discussion of past director’s.