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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Legislators back Hart’s DeVry appointment amid regents President Eileen Klein’s recent doubt

Tom Price
UA President Ann Weaver Hart addresses the ABOR at the UA Student Union on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Representatives from the Arizona State Senate and Arizona House of Representatives have issued letters of support to the Arizona Board of Regents for UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s position on the board of the for-profit DeVry Education Group.

The first letter, written on April 4, came from Rep. Jonathan R. Larkin, a member of the House Government and Higher Education Committee and a DeVry alumnus. Larkin wrote that Hart will be a great asset to DeVry. She will bring experience and “much needed balance to the higher education community,” according to Larkin.

He wrote that her work with DeVry would also help the state by supporting institutions based in Arizona that serve over 4,500 residents.

Related: UA faculty member creates petition against Hart’s appointment

Larkin also wrote that Hart could learn educational practices with DeVry that she could incorporate in her work at the UA.

“There are no shortage of innovations that could be used to even better serve the University of Arizona students,” Larkin wrote.

He directly addressed the regents by urging them to support Hart’s appointment with DeVry.

“As members of the Arizona Board of Regents, you understand the importance of quality higher education to the success of individual students and to further academic achievement in our state,” Larkin wrote. “Dr. Hart’s appointment to the DeVry Group Board is an opportunity for her to make an impact on these key higher education objectives while adding to her ability to serve the University of Arizona.”

The second letter of support was signed by Sen. Steve Pierce and Rep. T.J. Shope on April 12, and included signatures from 11 other Arizona lawmakers.

“Achieving Arizona’s educational attainment goals can only happen through collaboration and a steadfast commitment to serve all of Arizona’s lifelong learners which includes support for a diverse array of higher education providers. Dr. Hart’s proven service and leadership will only be broadened by expanding her professional experiences,” the letter reads.

Timeline: President Hart’s involvement with DeVry in news stories.

It states that collaboration and communication between different educational institutions should be encouraged and “exemplary service to the University of Arizona does not cut off service elsewhere.”

“Dr. Hart is a true educator, so let us take the opportunity to support rather than impede progress and base our actions on results rather than political platitudes. Arizona’s students deserve nothing less,” the letter continued.

The letters were addressed to some members of the board that may be concerned about Hart’s position with DeVry.

In an email from March 10, obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, regents President Eileen Klein wrote that she did not question Hart’s commitment to the UA and that the UA’s brand “hardly will be undone” by her decision to work with DeVry.

“While I don’t think a post hoc review of this particular decision is warranted, further review by the board about its notice and approval process is welcome to ensure we are operating unequivocally in the interest of the public and the students we serve,” Klein wrote in the March 10 email.

However, in a later email on April 9, also obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, Klein wrote that while she doesn’t believe Hart’s job with DeVry will be a conflict of interest with her position at the UA, her decision “clearly conflicts with current public perceptions about her primary role and responsibilities” as UA president.

“As much as I stand by [Hart’s] right to make this decision, I cannot ignore that her decision is creating a distraction and a risk, not just to the university but to the system,” Klein wrote. “It is also impacting the public’s perception of our leadership.”

Klein wrote she did not want to do anything that would cause the people to lose faith in the state’s public universities.

Klein sent out an email on April 11, obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, writing that she would soon issue a statement, but she did not give specifics.

Klein wrote in her email to the board that she thinks Hart’s decision “warrants reconsideration.”

Hart wrote she is uncertain why Klein changed her opinion of the appointment with DeVry, in an email statement provided to the Daily Wildcat by UA Vice President for Communications Chris Sigurdson:

Hart’s contract states her first priority is her position at the UA as president, according to Regent Rick Myers, but it also allows her to participate in activities outside of the university such as the DeVry position.

Related: Protesters flood steps of Old Main to show displeasure with Hart’s position at DeVry.

“I, and the rest of the board, are committed to working with her to continue to better [UA],” Myers wrote in an email to the Daily Wildcat. “Dr. Hart has continued challenges in meeting the goals of the Never Settle plan and I look forward to her accomplishments along the way.”

Even with the discussion over her appointment to DeVry’s Education Board, Hart affirmed she plans to maintain her position there.

“[I] view my board membership as a way to contribute to positive outcomes and quality for students in higher education who will never have the opportunity to attend the University of Arizona,” Hart wrote.

Requests for comment from other representatives of the board were not answered by press time.

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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