UAA hosted the recent US Universities Debating Championship.
I can hardly believe we're in the final days of the semester and that our first spring campus Commencement ceremony is this Sunday in the Alaska Airlines Center (AAC). Between the two ceremonies—one in December and one in May—more than 1,000 students will have walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and certificates this academic year. This increase in attendees (20 percent!) is a great sign that an on-campus ceremony is particularly meaningful for our students.
I'm happy to share with you the news that Dr. Fred Barlow will be joining our team as the new College of Engineering dean on July 15. Dr. Barlow comes to UAA from the University of Idaho, where he's served as a professor and director of the University of Idaho's Next Generation Microelectronics Research Center. We've also had a change in leadership in the College of Education (COE); Dr. Paul Deputy joined UAA as the interim dean for COE on April 14. Dr. Deputy has most recently served as dean of the College of Education and Human Service Professions at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Please join me in welcoming these new leaders to our campus.
UAA hosted a live-streaming watch party last week for the passing of the Arctic Council Chairmanship from Canada to the U.S. As the only Arctic state in the nation, Alaska will play a big role in the two-year chairmanship. Former Chancellor Fran Ulmer—and current advisor to the State Department on Arctic Issues—addressed the faculty, staff, students and community members who attended the event. We expect UAA's researchers and students who work on issues pertaining to the Arctic to be particularly engaged in Alaska's support of the Arctic Council Chairmanship.
Last Friday, UAA joined UAF, UAS and UA Statewide in announcing furloughs for our leadership-level employees in FY16. I, along with the other chancellors, believe this is the right thing to do given the budget shortfall the university is facing in FY16. We expect the leadership-level furlough to save UAA about $270,000 in operating expenses next fiscal year. With the magnitude of this shortfall, we know programs and services at UAA will be affected. The most painful repercussion of such a significant funding gap is that people will be impacted. However, I want to assure you, we are doing the best we can to minimize the severity of that impact on our current employees and our students.
In March and April, we held three open budget forums on campus. Podcasts from those forums are available to download. We have one final budget open forum scheduled for Friday, May 15, 1-2:30 p.m. in the Lew Haines Meeting Room, Library 307. I encourage you to attend. Though the budget has not yet been finalized, we hope to know more by mid-May.
Though it's easy to focus on the difficult news of the budget, I'd like to encourage all of you to remember UAA is an amazing university with truly outstanding faculty, staff and students. The celebrations happening around campus this week are great reminders of the incredible work we are doing for our community and state.
Thank you for all you do.