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Dear Community,

We are in the midst of many challenges and changes in the state's economy. With approximately one third of the University of Alaska's (UA) funding coming from the state, the projected budget deficit will impact the university at all levels. The impact of this reduction in appropriations coupled with other mandated increases leave UAA facing an $18 million to $22 million reduction in operating funds  spanning the fiscal year July 2015-June 2016; this number likely will change in the coming weeks.

Though we will likely see between $1 million to $2 million in realized savings through prioritization, this exercise was not designed for cuts of this magnitude. However, what we learned from prioritization will help inform the many difficult funding decisions we'll need to make over the next several months. In order to come out the other side of this budget reduction in the best shape possible, UAA will focus on supporting our "core," the programs and services of highest demand by our students and needed by our state. Over the next few months, my Cabinet and I will host open forums for the UAA community to ask questions about the budget and how it's shaping up for the university.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights visited all three UA campuses to better learn about how we handle cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Next week, a random sampling of UA students, faculty and staff will receive an email-based climate survey on sexual harassment and assault. This is a voluntary, confidential and anonymous survey that will help us understand how we can improve campus safety, outreach, education and services. We encourage your participation, but want you to understand it is completely voluntary. The survey itself will be accompanied by information about counseling and other resources on campus, should you need them.

I expect to make a decision soon regarding the provost position and extend my gratitude to the search committee. The search for the College of Engineering dean is on track for spring candidate visits. Community & Technical College interim dean Bonnie Nygard has agreed to continue in her interim role for another year, so we have temporarily suspended the search for a new CTC dean.

I appointed a task force to develop short- and long-term solutions for Tanaina Childhood Development Center. Please follow this link for more information about the committee and its work.

In spite of the difficult budget situation we face, there is still much to take note of and celebrate. If you need a reminder of the good things happening at UAA, take a moment to look around. Watch a basketball game in the Alaska Airlines Center, see a play in the Arts building, attend one of our campus lectures, or take part in one of the many events happening as part of Winterfest 2015.