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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona Board of Regents briefs

    $1 ASA fee hike approved

    The Arizona Students’ Association saw its budget double at the Arizona Board of Regents meeting last week in Flagstaff.

    The board approved ASA’s request to increase its refundable student fee from $1 to $2 per semester, effective this fall. Student leaders said the fee increase would give ASA the tools to substantially increase its lobbying power on behalf of students.

    The dollar increase will allow ASA to triple its staff, as well as free up ASA to focus on a greater swath of student issues, said Lindsay Bayuk, former ASA Board Chair. Previously, ASA had mainly focused on college affordability.

    “”There are so many more issues that we’d like to address,”” Bayuk said. “”Now we’ll be able to look at a lot of important things.””

    The fee was initially approved on all campuses by a student referendum in March. Tommy Bruce, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona said the fee hike received “”overwhelming student support.””

    An executive summary provided to the board of regents showed that the fee will increase ASA’s budget from $280,000 to $568,000 per year.

    “”It basically doubles our resources,”” Bruce said.

    The money would allow ASA to step up its lobbying efforts at the city, state and national levels, making the body an even more effective advocate for students, he said.

    “”It will allow them to make lots of trouble,”” said UA President Robert Shelton, who laughed afterward.

    “”We’re really going to put the hurt on these guys,”” said Bayuk, smiling back at Shelton and gesturing toward the regents’ empty chairs.

    UA to lower textbook costs

    The UA reported to the regents that the university is in full compliance with the body’s recommendations to lower textbook costs for students.

    The board’s Textbook Task Force released a plan in June 2007 that aimed to ease the squeeze on students’ wallets. Its recommendations included new procedures to encourage faculty to order textbooks on time, expanding textbook rental programs, instituting “”low-price guarantees”” at university bookstores and setting uniform deadlines to order textbooks before the buy-back period to make sure that more money is available for students returning used texts.

    “”The real key, in my mind, is getting faculty to publicize their required readings early,”” Shelton said.

    With more advance knowledge of required texts, the bookstore would be able to offer better prices for used books, he said.

    Shelton said that he felt the UA was getting better at lowering textbook prices and that bookstore officials are “”leading the nation”” to combat rising costs.

    More than a dozen new degrees to appear at the UA

    The board approved the UA’s academic strategic plan for 2008-2009. The plan laid out the university’s goals for next school year and also makes room for more than a dozen new academic programs, including a major in disability studies and minors in sports management and astrobiology.

    The new plan was more focused than it has been in years past, Shelton said.

    The plan names specific benchmarks and programs for meeting its four main goals – preparing Arizona’s youth for college, graduating students who can contribute to their communities, promoting world-class research at the UA and providing service to the state of Arizona.

    For example, the plan explains how the creation of new education degrees at UA South is part of the school’s efforts to create more teachers.

    “”We have a very good strategic plan that’s going to get better. It used to be sort of pabulum and sort of, ‘Let’s go and do good,'”” Shelton said. “”It’s a higher level of specificity rather than just saying, ‘We’re going to support everybody who’s really good.'””

    Campus construction approved

    The regents approved a UA capital development plan totaling $798.4 million for construction on campus.

    The plan included money for expansions to the medical school in downtown Phoenix, renovations to Centennial Hall and deferred maintenance for other university buildings.

    The board also approved construction of the UA Science Center and Arizona State Museum to be located in downtown Tucson.

    The land and money for the $130 million project will be provided by the city of Tucson, according to an executive summary provided by the board.

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