ABOR to Discuss TRIF Funding, New UA Dorms

ABOR to Discuss TRIF Funding, New UA Dorms

By Jeff HarrisonUniversity Communications
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An artistic rendering of a new UA residence hall proposed for Sixth Street near Tyndall Avenue.
An artistic rendering of a new UA residence hall proposed for Sixth Street near Tyndall Avenue.

Among the issues before the Arizona Board of Regents, which meets in Flagstaff this week, are the 2009 budget for the Technology and Research Initiative and a request for two new residence halls at The University of Arizona.

TRIF funds come from state sales taxes, specifically from an increase approved by voters in 2000. The UA’s TRIF allocations have paid for a variety of projects in biotechnology, optical sciences, and water and the environment. Solar energy research is being added as well.

Since TRIF funding is based on sales tax revenue, the current economic slowdown has reduced the current year’s collections by about 6 percent. The UA has adjusted its 2009 fiscal year budget for TRIF to $34 million.

Funds from TRIF have become an increasingly important source of funds and allow the UA to support research in important high-tech areas, translate those research results to clinical or commercial application and provide relevant education to developing the kind of work force Arizona will need in an increasingly knowledge-based economy.

“TRIF dollars are especially valuable to us in this time of tight budgets, as they are allowing the UA to reach new heights in areas of special strength: biosciences, optical sciences and technology, and water and environmental sustainability,” said Leslie Tolbert, UA vice president for research, graduate studies and economic development. “TRIF investments have had huge financial leveraging power: Our TRIF-supported faculty have brought in new federal and other grants that far outweigh the initial TRIF investments.”

One measure of success at the UA has been the return on investment of TRIF funds in research. An example is the bioresearch program, led by the BIO 5 Institute, the McKnight Brain Institute and the Arizona Clinical and Translational Research and Education Consortium. These programs were forecast to attract nearly three times as much in grants and other funding as the $9 million in TRIF funds expended. The actual amount came to more than $47 million, more than five times the initial funding.

In other business before the board, which meets on the campus of Northern Arizona University on Thursday and Friday, the UA will ask regents to address the shortage of on-campus housing. Residence Life is asking for $159 million for two new residence halls that would be built along Sixth Street – one at Sixth and Euclid Avenue, south of Coronado Hall, and the other at Highland Avenue, north of Apache-Santa Cruz Hall.

If approved, construction would begin as early as November for the first building. The second would begin in January. The new halls would provide 1,066 beds for the beginning of the fall 2010 semester.

Nearly 700 applications from first-year students were turned away due to the shortage. Enrollment projections indicate that figure could grow to about 1,600 by 2011. Residence Life estimates about 75 percent of first-year students live on campus. The figures that show first-year students who live on campus generally have better grade point averages and are more likely to graduate in a reasonable amount of time. Residence halls increasingly are programmed to engage students both academically and socially.

Other UA-related topics that will be before the board:

  • Approval to appoint William M. Crist as the vice president of health affairs at the UA.
  • Bonding authority to fund the replacement of the UA’s major computer systems.
  • Changes to the Code of Conduct to allow the dean of students more flexibility in restricting or suspending students.
  • Repairs to several UA residence halls.
  • Financing for solar arrays at six College of Agriculture and Life Sciences sites.
  • Extending the $1 per semester fee for KAMP student radio.

An agenda is available on the Arizona Board of Regents Web site.

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