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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


ABOR prepares for year with budget cuts, advocates for students

Baraha Elkhalil
The Arizona Board of Regents holds a meeting in the Grand Ballroom in the Student Union Memorial Center at the University of Arizona to discuss budget cuts on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. They are strategizing in order to make the next semester a success despite the challenges presented by budget cuts.

The Arizona Board of Regents is scheduled to take action at its Sept. 24 board meeting on an updated strategic plan that the Enterprise Executive Committee has been working on.

This came at the request of Gov. Doug Ducey at the April board meeting. Ducey asked the board to deliver “a sustainable, long-term business plan that addresses the needs of students and the business community that depends on their success.”

Ducey’s request comes after the passage of the legislative budget that cut $99 million from the three in-state universities.

“This should be a plan that policymakers and elected leaders, starting with myself, can support, take to the public, advocate for and implement,” Ducey said regarding the regents’ new plan.

The EEC is comprised of Eileen Klein, board president of the board of regents, as well as the presidents of Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the UA.

Klein said the committee is excited about these areas and that the committee will work to organize the universities around them.

“This isn’t just an aspirational document of things we think should happen,” Klein said. “This will become the framework that every university has to develop an academic, business and strategic plan of their own, showing how they’re going to play their part in contributing to the state reaching these goals that we’ve set.”

Klein said the committee will be meeting with Ducey in a few weeks for his input, and will present the plan to the board in September, accompanied by their budget request and a different approach to requesting money from the state.

Along with the committee’s legislative agenda, which will continue to advance a series of regulatory reforms, the EEC will put forward a package for the board’s consideration that ultimately will be delivered to Ducey on Oct. 1.

“We are so excited for back-to-school and the number of students we have and the diversity of students we have, but the reality is we have to have a very serious conversation with policymakers about how we’re going to create a sustainable financial model,” Klein said.

Klein said talks with officials are not just essential to the EEC’s operation, but are key to making sure post-secondary eduction remains within reach of every student in the state, especially with the increase in students who have need for financial assistance.

“The number-one way to keep tuition low is for the state to step up and be a partner to students in helping to cover the costs of their education,” Klein said. “We want to have a serious conversation with policymakers about what it’s going to take and the level of investment the universities should expect.”

Klein found the most recent round of cuts difficult, challenging and disappointing, so she is eager to reverse the course on those cuts and see the legislature begin to restore funding to the universities as soon as possible.

Manny Felix, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said, “I know for the next year that all three universities and all the student body presidents from all the different campuses are looking to work closely with one another to prevent the budget cuts like what happened last year.”

Felix said if students all work together, they will have a more active voice and an active student body that will ultimately be more powerful than working individually– — the hope being that students will have a greater impact when bringing up an issue to the board of regents.

Along with wanting a good relationship with the board this year, Felix said, “We will be choosing our student regent, who is our closest relationship with the board, the university and the administration. So we’re looking to hopefully have a student regent who will represent the students and have the best interest of students at heart.”

Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.

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