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The Daily Wildcat

 

Regents seek funding

rl / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Lute Olsons retirement ceremony, 7/8/09
rl / Arizona Daily Wildcat Lute Olson’s retirement ceremony, 7/8/09

The Arizona Board of Regents said an additional $459.1 million is needed to fill the holes in the Arizona university system’s 2011 budget. The regents also discussed the implications of a new gun law that will allow firearms to be brought on to university property at their Sept. 23-24 meeting in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The three presidents of Arizona’s public universities said the funding request currently included in the fiscal year 2011 operating budget is insufficient to maintain high academic standards.

Originally, the fiscal year 2011 budget called for a $136.4 million increase over the fiscal year 2010 state operating budget. After discussing the numbers in a private session, ABOR came up with a new figure it says realistically represents the needs of the Arizona public university system.

“”The message that we heard loud and clear this morning is that we owe it to ourselves to fully express university needs,”” ABOR vice president Fred DuVal said.

In a vote of 7-3 the regents agreed to send an updated request to the governor and state legislature that identified the actual financial needs of the university system.

The request will include the new budget figure. However, some regents were skeptical as to whether the state legislature will take it seriously.

“”Basically the fact is that we need to present to the governor and the legislature what we have and what we feel the universities need to carry out their mission,”” said regent Bob McLendon. “”I think it’s important we put it all out there in black and white what it is we deem to be necessary. That’s our job.””

President Robert Shelton said the UA has been modest and consistent in its budget requests.

He identified enrollment growth and retention of university faculty and employees as being two critical areas where funding is essential.

“”The university has lost roughly 600 positions,”” Shelton said. “”We continue to see the loss of some of our best scholars to other institutions throughout the country.””

ASU president Michael Crow and NAU president John Haeger said funding enrollment growth is a critical issue.

Crow said the legislature is violating the state constitution by not providing adequate funding for an influx of new students.

“”The legislature has not said to stop enrolling qualified students,”” he said. “”It is not fulfilling its promise to fund these students.””

With nearly 50 percent of Arizona residents on the poverty line, Haeger said, additional tuition increases could put the majority of state residents in a situation where they can’t afford higher education.

Regents support federal financial aid bill

The board of regents discussed President Barack Obama’s plan to streamline FAFSA, a federal program designed to provide college tuition for students.

The regents conveyed their support for the president’s three-part plan, which includes restructuring of the online FAFSA form, allowing students to electronically access information from their tax returns and simplifying the formula used to calculate the amount of tuition received by students.

The legislation regarding FAFSA is part of House Bill 3221, which was proposed by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller.

In addition to streamlining FAFSA, the bill, if passed, will establish a College Completion and Innovation Fund that will fund programs designed to improve college retention rates.

“”Obama’s piece of legislation is very important and we are much in favor of it,”” Shelton said.

Presidents speak out against gun law

The second day of the meeting opened up with a discussion on A.R.S. 12-781, a gun law that restricts public employers and property owners from enforcing a policy that prohibits the transportation and storage of firearms in a private vehicle.

Previously, the three state universities had enacted laws that banned firearms from being taken onto a university campus.

The regents and university presidents unanimously viewed the new law as being detrimental to the educational mission of the university system.

“”Our job as university presidents is to create an environment of openness, tolerance and acceptance,”” Crow said. “”The public projection of weapons is contrary to this environment.””

Shelton gave a statement on behalf of the UA faculty condemning the new law.

“”The faculty of the UA would like to express grave concern about the safety of our students and staff,”” he said.

The regents voted to draft a letter to the state legislature and governor’s office requesting exemption for the university system.

The law will go into effect Sept. 30.

Calderon dismisses coaching concerns

Arizona Board of Regents president Ernest Calderon said there was misinformation floating around about Arizona Athletics.

In a Sept. 20 article on Arizona university coaching salaries, The Arizona Republic reported that the board of regents launched an extensive review of university athletic departments.

The purpose of the investigation, according the Republic, was “”to examine the growth in coaching salaries, how sports programs are funded and whether opportunities for male and female students athletes are more equal.””

Calderon denied the claim that the board is investigating coaching salaries.

“”I want to make it clear that the Arizona Board of Regents has no inention of investigating Arizona athletic salaries,”” Calderon said.

Calderon said the review of university athletics was initiated as an analysis of revenue, overhead expenses and a briefing of Title 9 requirements for sports.

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