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New UA financial report announces program cuts, financial restructuring

United+Campus+Workers+and+supporters+gather+in+front+of+the+Administration+building+to+protest+against+layoffs+on+Feb.+5.+The+protest+comes+as+a+reaction+to+the+universitys+financial+crisis+that+has+threatened+faculty+and+staff+layoffs.%0A
Emma Diaz
United Campus Workers and supporters gather in front of the Administration building to protest against layoffs on Feb. 5. The protest comes as a reaction to the university’s financial crisis that has threatened faculty and staff layoffs.

The Arizona Board of Regents delivered an “enhanced financial oversight report to Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs Friday, laying out the actions the board is taking to strengthen financial oversight and financial structures at the three public universities it supervises: the University of Arizona, ASU and NAU. 

This plan is in answer to Hobbs’ Jan. 25 letter to ABOR, which requested a plan that included proposed solutions, strategies and metrics to measure progress toward these goals. 

As per Hobbs’ requests, the board is working to hire a global professional services firm to “provide third-party advice and evaluation of the University’s financial information and decision-making,” with an emphasis on the athletic department and the UA’s online educational acquisition (UA Global Campus), according to the report. 

The report noted that the UA, while not in “imminent financial jeopardy” is currently facing a budget shortfall of about $177 million, and needs to make “significant changes” in order to avoid said jeopardy. 

According to the report, one of the major steps the university is taking is reducing administration. This involves decreasing administrative costs, centralizing certain positions and functions and establishing a new method for the UA to report finances.

The university identified an opportunity to save $27 million by permanently eliminating currently vacant positions. Also announced in the report was the elimination of the university’s eSports program (reportedly saving $300,000 per year), the suspension of the Strategic Priorities Faculty Initiative, the suspension of competitive grant programs in the Provost Investment Fund (saving a reported $15.5 million per year) and the delay of the next cohort of the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (saving an estimated $400,000 over the next academic year). 

The UA is currently working to “enhance revenue.” This involves creating a new financial model, the elimination of the Tuition Guarantee Program and the recalibration of merit-based aid for undergraduate and non-resident students beginning in fall 2025. 

The UA announced plans to centralize multiple departments, including: human resources, information technology, facilities, finance, marketing and communications and university advancement.

The university will also review multiple senior leadership positions, including all vice provost, vice president and vice dean roles to look for places where these roles may be consolidated, adjusted or eliminated. According to the report, the university has already identified 13 positions that can be eliminated or reclassified.

According to the Feb. 9 report, the university will also “rightsize all college and division budgets.”

Each college at the UA is expected to present a FY 2025 plan that shows options to reduce its spending by 5, 10 and 15% over a period of 18-36 months.

The Arizona athletics department and the UA’s online platforms will also see a restructuring in the near future. This process will include “centralizing administrative functions, identifying efficiencies in operations, resetting the budget, and installing hard caps on spending,” according to the report. UA Athletics recently announced an increase in season ticket prices for men’s basketball and football in the 2024-25 season. 

UA Global Campus will go through a review and verification process that will analyze the efficiency of the program and will lead to recommendations for “how to best position UA online,” according to the report.  

The university has already implemented a hiring freeze, a compensation freeze, restrictions in purchasing, restrictions on travel for senior leadership, deferral on nonessential capital projects and the conclusion of strategic initiatives funding.

Hobbs previously called out the university and board of regents for contradictory messaging and a lack of transparency on the part of the two bodies. In line with the demand for increased accountability made by Gov. Hobbs, the board’s report ended with a note about its “commitment to transparency, engagement and communications.

The report mentioned that the board, President Dr. Robert C. Robbins and Interim CFO John Arnold will continue to update members of the university community and hold different events and forums to engage said community. ABOR will now also hold meetings 2-3 times a month to assess progress at the UA, and the university is expected to provide the board and the governor’s office with reports every month. 

According to the report’s appendix, the university is required to communicate its total payroll and number of employees (by type) every other week, cash level weekly and purchases over $50,000 monthly.


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