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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

University of Arizona Faculty Senate address cuts, merger

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Angeline Carbajal

Faculty Senate Chairman Lynn Nadel speaks to members of the Faculty Senate on Monday in the Old Main Silver and Sage Room. The senate discussed the Banner Health merger that was recently postponed. President Ann Weaver Hart also discussed how they plan to deal with Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget cuts.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget cuts and the Banner Health merger with the University of Arizona Health Network dominated the first Faculty Senate meeting of the calendar year.

“The budget is on everyone’s mind,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart, in response to the proposed $75 million cut to Arizona universities by Ducey.

She said work has already quietly begun behind the scenes to explore ways to distribute funds after the cut.

“I do want to argue, persuasively, that whatever we have to do, the deans, the provost, all the senior team and all of you [on the senate], focus on our student services and academic mission,” Hart added.

Last year’s adoption of a four-year fixed tuition rate, which was prompted by students, means current students will continue to pay the same tuition.

However, incoming freshmen next year may face a tuition increase. They would then be charged the same amount for the following four years.

“Higher education is a critical component to the state going forward,” Hart said.

She also updated the senate on the status of the Banner-UAHN merger, which was rumored to go into firm closing at the end of this month.

“Three key compliance issues have emerged that are critical to the Banner liabilities assumed in the merger agreement,” Hart said.

Two issues are UAHN-related.

“One issue I can tell you with confidence and congratulations … that our problem with reimbursements that were identified with a third-party consultant are less than 10 percent,” Hart said, which she interpreted as well.

Another issue deals with Medicare and Medicaid compliance issues.

Hart described the merger as a “huge, huge commitment on part of Banner to build a new hospital here in Tucson to take on two medical schools in an environment, where everyone is saying academic medicine is [dead on arrival], and to commit to comparing [effective] translation of basic research as a clinical partner designed to make money delivering health care.”

She added that in the near future, the signing of the agreement will make the contract legally binding, but the firm closing is not expected until the end of February.

“Stay tuned,” Hart said. “I believe we are forging an incredible future for our two colleges of medicine with a 30-year academic affiliation agreement that may transform academic medicine and will certainly provide a brighter future.”

Another major point among the Faculty Senate was the plan for how to hire a new dean for the Eller College of Management. 

Andrew Comrie, the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, informed the senate that the search was underway.

Possible candidates for the position will be found by a 19-member selection committee.

Comrie added that “we will move as fast as possible,” stating the goal is to have the finalist visit and interview before the end of the semester.

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Follow David McGlothlin on Twitter.

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