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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ABOR approves budget requests

FLAGSTAFF — The Arizona Board of Regents approved university funding requests for fiscal year 2013 during its meeting on Thursday, but not without debate.

The funding request, which totaled $801.7 million between the three universities and the board, represents a $119.3 million increase from the budget for fiscal year 2012. The majority of this increase comes in items classified as one-time expenditures, totaling $83.2 million.

“These budget requests reflect the realities of the current economic conditions of the state and represent just a fraction of the true needs of the universities,” said regents Chairman Fred DuVal.

Much of the discussion stemmed from two primary points — a provision slipped into the UA’s proposal which would allot funding to develop a specialized nursing program related to cancer treatment at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and the disproportionate distribution of state funds.

Though the cancer nursing program request accounted for only $1 million of the UA’s $14.5 million in requests for the biomedical campus, Arizona State University President Michael Crow said he had not been informed of the request ahead of time, and was under the impression that ASU would run nursing programs out of Phoenix.

The UA and ASU entered into an agreement to operate the biomedical campus jointly in 2004, but that agreement was dissolved in 2010, leaving the UA in charge of the day-to-day operation of the campus.

UA President Eugene Sander said the request was not an attempt to deceive Crow or any other board member, but rather reflected the need to continue development of specialized programs. He said this is particularly true when considering the Arizona Cancer Center, the only center of its kind in the state.

“This is not meant to step on any toes,” Sander said.

Regent Anne Mariucci said Crow’s unfamiliarity with the provision until it was brought up at the meeting was proof that the Council of Presidents, a group made up of Arizona’s three university presidents in addition to regents President Tom Anderes, was not functioning as it should.

“Even though it (the request) is not financially significant, it’s strategically significant,” she said.

The university funding requests also included three studies mandated by the Arizona Legislature: an examination of the funding disparity between the three universities, work to develop a more student-centered financial aid system and a shift toward a performance-based funding model.

Regent Dennis DeConcini raised issue with the discussion of funding disparity. He said the disparity, which mainly focused on raising ASU’s and Northern Arizona University’s per-student funding to a level equitable with the UA’s, was not a recent circumstance. Specifically, he cited the UA’s status as Arizona’s sole land-grant university, and its biggest research institution, as reasons why a funding gap may be justifiable.

“Sometimes the first child gets to go to the best university because they’re first,” DeConcini said. “If this is approved, the UA is going to have less money and, in my judgment, it’s a mistake.”

The regents approved the proposed funding disparity plan, which spreads out the process over five years. To equalize funding, ASU will receive a total of $59.9 million at a rate of around $12 million a year, while NAU will receive $16.5 million at around $3.3 million a year. DeConcini was the only dissenting vote on the item.

The regents briefly touched on the ongoing shift from an enrollment-based model to a performance-based one. Anderes said the new system, which is based on a series of 32 metrics designed to test university proficiency and performance in key areas, will not be in place until next year.

The UA’s proposed capital improvement plan was also approved unanimously. The plan includes more than $255 million worth of projects, $145 million of which would go to the construction of a new engineering research building and new bioscience research labs.

Byrne receives extension

The board of regents unanimously approved a contract extension for Athletics Director Greg Byrne. Under the new provisions of the extension, Byrne will receive an approximate 33 percent pay hike, from $330,000 to $440,000, though his compensation for “peripheral duties,” public appearances, speaking engagements and the like, will remain unchanged at $60,000 per year. Additionally, Byrne will receive an annual incentive of $100,000, beginning Sept. 30 of next year, and running throughout his contract, providing him with a potential $500,000 in bonus pay if he serves out the life of his contract. Byrne is only eligible to receive this bonus money if he completes his entire contract, and will forfeit it if he is terminated or voluntarily leaves his position. His contract was also extended by 17 months and now runs to Sept. 29, 2016.

UA President Eugene Sander praised Byrne, calling him the “prototypical up-and-coming athletic director.” Though Byrne was not present at the meeting, Regent Ernest Calderon read a letter in which Byrne said he was excited to continue being a part of the “Wildcat family.”

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