Budget Issues Loom at Regents Meeting
A status report on the state budget is likely to be the primary topic before members of the Arizona Board of Regents, which begins a two-day meeting at The University of Arizona tomorrow.
The discussion will include presentations by UA President Robert N. Shelton, Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Northern Arizona President John Haeger on its implications on each university. State legislative leaders last week called for approximately $243 million in midyear reductions to the university system, with about $103 million coming from the UA.
ABOR has called the cuts "cataclysmic." Former Gov. Janet Napolitano, who left Arizona to become secretary of Homeland Security, offered in her final budget a package that included $100 million in cuts for the universities.
The board also will receive a report on higher education issues at the federal level. A policy brief titled "Top 10 State Policy Issues for Higher Education" discusses the fiscal crises that state governments currently face. Those issues include tuition prices and policy, state student grant aid programs, enrollment capacity, the role of the incoming Obama administration and issues surrounding veterans, students who cannot prove their legal status for in-state tuition, and campus sustainability.
Also on the agenda is a review of the 2020 Vision plan from the Strategic Planning, Budget and Finance Committee. The goal of the plan is to provide a framework for measurable performance goals and objectives for the universities. Those goals call for, among other things, nearly doubling the number of bachelor's degrees awarded over the next dozen years, as well as increasing first-year retention rates, graduation rates, enrollment and total research expenditures.
The board also will be asked to approve a two-year exception to its own policy on nonresidents. Universities currently are limited to having 30 pecent of their enrollment made up of full-time non-resident undergraduates. The waiver would increase the amount to 40 percent, as long as the total number of in-state students at each university remains at or above fall 2008 levels. Officials say adding more out-of-state students could enhance revenues and financial aid levels.
Shelton also will report on several cost-saving measures implemented at the UA over the last four years. Shelton said refinancing the University's debt in this period alone accounted for $5.7 million in cost savings. Purchases using university P-cards over traditional purchase orders cut processing by more than half, a savings of nearly $30 million. Replacing aging fume hoods with more energy-efficient hoods in campus laboratories cut energy costs by roughly $2.8 million. And creative scheduling for the UA's 189 air handlers saves nearly a million dollars a year.
Shelton has been offered a contract extension through 2011 and a $50,000 pay raise. Shelton was hired in 2006. His current contract expires July 1. Shelton has said he would donate his salary increase to the UA Foundation for charitable projects.
Other UA items before the board include:
- Contract extensions for men's head baseball coach Andy Lopez through 2013 and women's volleyball head coach David Rubio through 2011.
- Exercising a ground lease option with the city of Phoenix in preparation for the next phase of construction on the Phoenix biomedical campus.
- Approval of a $17.7 million contract from Science Foundation Arizona to create the Institute of Mineral Resources to benefit mining interests and research.