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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Regent says he puts students first

Ernest+Calder
Ernest Calder

After attending two state universities and recognizing their potential for improvement, Ernest Calderón is helping to make those improvements.

Ernest Calderón, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, graduated from the UA’s James E. Rogers College of Law in 1982. Former governor Janet Napolitano appointed Calderón to the board in 2004. He became president on July 1, 2009.

“”I was disappointed in the ways the universities served the students,”” Calderón said regarding why he was interested in serving on the board. He named inadequate staffing, course availability and school amenities as areas that he saw as lacking. As president, Calderón said he is responsible for the $2.4 billion budget as well as interaction with the presidents of the three state universities.        

“”Right now we have a lack of support from the legislature,”” he said. “”We’re working with the legislature every day to get them to be more sensitive to investing in higher education.””

Calderón said ensuring adequate salaries for faculty and providing students with financial aid are both important issues that need to be addressed.    

“”I still believe we have to do better for the students,”” he said. “”The students should come first.””

Calderón said he enjoys serving on the board because it gives him the opportunity to meet people. He also likes “”the fact that I really get to make change to help students.””

One of the challenges the board currently faces is a larger student population and a smaller budget. Calderón said during his undergraduate career, 19.8 percent of the state budget was allocated to higher education and the student population was about 50,000 at all three state universities combined. Now 10.8 percent of the budget goes toward higher education and the student population is about 127,000.

“”You can see the shrinking resources,”” he said.

In addition to serving on the board of regents, which requires about 25 hours per week, Calderón has a law firm, Calderón Law Offices, where he practices civil law. He works evenings and weekends to catch up and take care of his clients.

Calderón is from Morenci, Ariz. He said he always wanted to be a lawyer, and one of the things that influenced him was growing up in segregated housing.

“”I thought that was very unfair,”” he said. “”The law was the great equalizer.””

Calderón studied political science and business at Northern Arizona University, where he graduated in 1979. He also served as the president of the Associated Students of NAU from 1978-1979.

“”I very much enjoyed student government,”” he said. “”I developed a passion for higher education.””   

Andrew Silverman, a Joseph Livermore professor and director of clinical programs at the James E. Rogers College of Law, knew Calderón during his time in law school.

“”He took law school seriously and was a very enthusiastic person,”” Silverman said. He also described Calderón as personable and outgoing.

Silverman said lawyers must be problem solvers, deal with conflicts, serve as advocates and be articulate, all of which Calderón does.

“”He’s someone who has good political sense, which is an important thing to have when you’re a regent,”” Silverman said. “”He’s very committed to things he gets involved in.””

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