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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Regents approve cutbacks

    The UA will have to reduce its budget by nearly $6 million to help meet the state Legislature’s $26 million budget cut for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

    The Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved budget cuts totaling $14.7 million for the state’s three universities at their meeting Friday.

    UA students will likely feel the brunt of those cuts in 2009, when university officials anticipate more extreme losses.

    Officials have been preparing for the 2008 cuts, and they’re “”something that good managers can deal with,”” said UA President Robert Shelton.

    “”I’m comfortable with how 2008 is, but I’m wary of 2009,”” he said.

    Academic units at the UA will return half a percent of their budget as part of the cuts, while non-academic units will be returning 1 percent of this year’s allocated funds.

    To accommodate the rest of a $26 million budget cut, UA and ASU will split the $10.5 million rollback cost for the biomedical campus design of the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix.

    The UA’s cuts make up 2.5 percent of the university’s overall budget reduction. The remaining $3.4 million will come from the president’s and provost’s offices, Shelton said.

    The latter number represents money the UA didn’t spend last fall in anticipation of the 2008 cuts, he said.

    The deans are responsible for dividing the cut among the departments in their colleges, Shelton said.

    “”It’s not that we’re punishing them, but it’s proportional with the general funds budget,”” he said.

    The figures are proportional to each university’s expenditures, according to a regents report. The UA’s share of $5.9 million is about 40 percent of the total cuts. Arizona State University is faced with $6.6 million (45 percent) in cuts, and Northern Arizona University will lose $2.2 million (15 percent).

    UA officials are “”buying time”” and planning for a more substantial cut for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Shelton said.

    University officials will be able to plan better after the Legislature announces the amount of the budget cuts in June, Shelton said.

    Staff cuts and a decrease in services could be consequences, and Shelton cited reducing the number of vendors in the Student Union Memorial Center as a possible example.

    ASU President Michael Crow said students would most likely be affected by a decrease in services, as cuts would mean fewer advisors and tutors.

    Following the regents meeting, the Tuition Task Force convened to discuss how to lessen the impact on students, taking into consideration Arizona’s economy and the availability of student loans.

    Regent Ernesto Calderón, chair of the task force, said members are looking at the additional costs students are facing, such as the increase in student health insurance premiums.

    “”They are factors the board should consider along with the budget cuts,”” he said.

    UA to begin replacing old computer systems

    The regents approved UA’s Enterprise Systems Replacement Project. The $90 million plan will replace old administrative computer applications, which house student records, class scheduling, student recruitment, budget planning and payroll data.

    The proposal will cost $90 million in its first five years and $9 million to maintain thereafter.

    Approximately $50 million will be used to pay for PeopleSoft, a system that will be in charge of human resources and student records.

    The remaining $40 million will go toward computer systems, integration costs and contingencies.

    The new programs will be installed over the next three years.

    The UA needs to replace its systems to stay competitive and keep a flow of research grant money, Shelton said.

    Regents’ professors named

    Regents approved three new Regents’ professors for the UA.

    Professors Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling and Richard Wilkinson received the designation, the highest honor given to a faculty member, due to their professional achievements.

    Ochman works in the departments of ecology and evolutionary biology and biochemistry and molecular biophysics. His research has centered on addressing challenges in health care.

    Vierling works in the department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. She is considered a world leader in researching the biological responses to heat stress.

    Wilkinson works in the departments of classics and Near Eastern studies. He has written eight renowned books on Egyptology.

    The designation brings a permanent $5,000 salary increase.

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