Transformation Continues Amid Budget Uncertainty

Transformation Continues Amid Budget Uncertainty

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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As the question of state budget cuts looms large for The University of Arizona, the transformation process initiated in the fall to evaluate and reorganize units and business practices across campus continues to move forward.

In an update on the Transformation Plan progress during Monday's Faculty Senate meeting, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Gail Burd said five completed academic white papers have moved forward, and she expects several more to develop into full proposals by the end of next week.

Burd said she anticipates the number of departments and schools currently on campus will shrink from approximately 113 to 97 through mergers. She added that 33 University degree programs have been identified as low degree producing, based on Arizona Board of Regents guidelines, and may be asked to reorganize or close.

In regards to administrative white papers submitted by nonacademic departments on campus, the transformation subcommittee of the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee has reviewed them and made recommendations, said committee chair Miranda Joseph.

Joseph pointed to a number of "truly transformative and thoughtful plans" but said that, overall, greater collaboration between vice presidents across different units will be helpful in creating the most effective proposals.

Provost Meredith Hay said the goal is to get as many full proposals before the Faculty Senate by March 1 as possible.

She said she also wants to be able to submit a list of any proposed changes in curriculum, degree offerings, college and school names or reorganizations planned for the next academic year to ABOR's Academic Affairs Committee in April and to the full board in June.

Getting ABOR's preapproval on those ideas will help eliminate the need to take proposals back to the board if and when the Faculty Senate approves them later, Hay said.

During Monday's meeting, Hay thanked those who attended last week's Arizona Board of Regents meeting to speak out against a proposed midyear cut of $243 million to the state university system.

A record-setting crowd of nearly 1,000 people attended the board's meeting last Thursday at the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom.

"It was probably one of the proudest moments for myself and President (Robert N.) Shelton," Hay said.

Hay said the turnout made a strong impact and that by Friday morning, state legislators' in-boxes were jammed with e-mails protesting the proposed cuts.

The fight against the cuts continued today when a few thousand of Arizona university students protested at the state Capitol.

The three state university presidents also spoke at a news conference on the Capitol lawn this morning to share details of a proposal to instead cut $100 million from the universities' budgets and describe what such cuts would mean for each school. (See related story.)

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