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UCWAZ calls for Robbins and Rulney to resign

Robert+Robbins+and+Ron+Shoopman+speak+before+University+of+Arizona+students+and+news+networks+about+tuition+on+Apr.+2+in+Old+Main.
Griffin Riley
Robert Robbins and Ron Shoopman speak before University of Arizona students and news networks about tuition on Apr. 2, 2019 in Old Main.

The United Campus Workers of Arizona called for the resignation of both President Dr. Robert C. Robbins and Senior Advisor Lisa Rulney on Jan. 19. The UCWAZ, a union representing faculty, staff and students in Arizona’s higher education system, said they want to see new leadership within the University of Arizona that can address the financial loss of $240 million that the university is facing. 

On Dec. 13, 2023, Robbins presented the UA’s “Financial Action Plan” to the Arizona Board of Regents in an attempt to address the severe financial situation. Along with that plan came the announcement that Chief Financial Officer Rulney would be stepping down from her role

It was later revealed that Rulney instead moved to an advisory position within the Office of Business Affairs while still making her previous salary of $506,325 a year

This hypocrisy and lack of transparency represents an unacceptable breach of trust, especially while UA workers are facing increasing workloads, a hiring freeze, and a salary increase freeze due to the financial disaster that Robbins and Rulney oversaw,” UCWAZ said in an official statement.

“It’s things like that that have completely destroyed any level of trust, and it’s clear that the things that we need to address this financial mismanagement need to happen within a culture of honesty, transparency and accountability and that’s not going to happen with our current leadership,” UCWAZ member and UA campus program coordinator Maria Sohn Hasman said.

Currently, the UA has implemented a temporary hiring and compensation freeze through the end of June of this year. No new employees will be hired by the university (besides some exceptions) and no salary adjustments will be made during this period. The UA also plans to cut back on non-resident financial aid and eliminate tuition guarantee in fall 2025 for all new students

“We don’t want to see the brunt of this taken by students, staff and faculty. We want higher-up admin salaries to be cut. We have folks who are making more than $500,000 a year and we’ve had a 218% increase in provost positions in the last ten years. We are seeing increased workloads across staff and student workers but we can’t hire staff to alleviate it or provide increased salary,” Sohn Hasman said. 

According to Sohn Hasman, the decision to call for Rulney and Robbins’ resignations came after a survey was conducted among all the UCWAZ workers at the UA. 93% voted in favor of calling for Rulney’s resignation while 90% voted in favor of calling for Robbins’ resignation. This is the first time that the UCWAZ has called for either of their resignations. 

“The things that led to it were obviously the financial crisis and this extreme mismanagement of finances. After that, it was also just a lack of accountability and a lack of transparency. At no point had they really had conversations with shared government bodies or us. We haven’t had a conversation with them as the union,” Sohn Hasman said. 

Within the statement calling for the resignation of Robbins and Rulney, the UCWAZ also called on Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbsto provide greater oversight and accountability of the Arizona Board of Regents and to ensure board representation that better reflects a shared interest in transparency and value in our higher education community.”

Last week, Hobbs sent a letter to ABOR demanding this accountability and transparency. 

The UCWAZ statement ended with a call for a change in leadership to better serve the university.

 “We, the United Campus Workers of Arizona, call for the resignation of President Robbins and Senior Advisor Lisa Rulney in favor of new leadership that can address the extreme financial mismanagement while continuing to meaningfully serve students and protect workers in collaboration with the UA community,” concluded the UCWAZ official statement.


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