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President Robbins announces resignation from the UA

UA+President+Dr.+Robert+C.+Robbins+addresses+the+audience+at+a+Sept.+20+panel+on+creating+research+partnerships+to+find+solutions+to+environment+and+societal+issues.+Courtesy+Arlene+S.+Islas
UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins addresses the audience at a Sept. 20 panel on creating research partnerships to find solutions to environment and societal issues. (Courtesy Arlene S. Islas)

University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins announced that he would be stepping down as the UA president at the end of his current contract, which expires June 30, 2026. This announcement was made in an email to the campus community the morning of April 2, and comes after months of news and controversy surrounding the university’s financial crisis

According to Arizona Board of Regents Chair Cecilia Mata, the board will begin a nationwide search for the next UA president, a search that will “move forward with expediency,” as detailed by an ABOR press release. 

According to Robbins’ statement, he is prepared to leave the university sooner if the board finds an acceptable replacement prior to his contract’s expiration. 

“I will continue to serve the institution and work with ABOR to ensure a smooth transition at the appropriate time,” Robbins said.

Robbins and ABOR have been the frequent target of backlash from members of the campus community, as well as Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, in recent months for their response to the university’s financial woes. 

Hobbs will continue to work with the university and the board to address the UA’s financial situation, according to a release from the governor’s office.

“From day one I have been laser-focused on addressing fiscal mismanagement and ensuring there is proper oversight and accountability from ABOR to protect our public universities. Moving forward, I will continue that work in coordination with UArizona leadership and ABOR. UArizona is an incredible asset to the State of Arizona. During this time of leadership transition, I will continue to offer my support to the university and to ABOR as a successor is identified,” Hobbs’ statement read.

According to a Jan. 29 financial update presented to the Board of Regents, the UA is facing a $177 million structural deficit, due in large part to departments going over budget ($116 million), a loan to the athletic department ($32 million) and “unallocated leases/utilities/institutional costs” ($24 million). 

“The past 18 months certainly have been difficult for our University, but I am confident that our passion and commitment for doing what is right, as well as our thorough and thoughtful analysis to address our ongoing challenges, will bring our institution greater stability in short order,” Robbins said. 

Since the public announcement of the UA’s budget deficit, the university has seen plenty of turnover within senior leadership positions, with Robbins’ recent announcement being the most notable in a series of staffing changes.

In December, the university’s Chief Financial Officer Lisa Rulney resigned, and was replaced by ABOR Executive Director John Arnold in an interim capacity. The Board of Regents also experienced leadership alterations. Two months after Rulney’s resignation, Arnold took a leave of absence from ABOR to focus on his role at the university (after Hobbs claimed his serving in both positions was a conflict of interest) and ABOR Chair Fred DuVal stepped down amidst conflict with the UA Faculty Senate. 

In January, the athletic department also experienced leadership changes. Shortly after the departure of head football coach Jedd Fisch, the university announced the departure of Athletic Director Dave Heeke, who had been with the university since 2017. Heeke was replaced by Desireé Reed-Francois in late February.

Robbins has been with the university as its president since 2017. This announcement comes just a few weeks after Robbins announced he would take a pay cut to help mitigate the financial crisis.


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