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UA president announces salary cut, evaluation of university leadership costs

Also: The Arizona Board of Regents sees sudden leadership changes
Marison Bilagody
University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins speaks at the school’s COVID-19 memorial on the UA Mall March 23, 2022. Recently, Robbins addressed the state of the university at the Arizona Board of Regents Meeting March 4, on campus.

University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins announced that his salary will be “significantly reduced” as part of efforts to address the university’s financial challenges, according to an email sent to the campus community on Monday, March 4.

According to a March 4 statement released by Arizona Board of Regents Chair Elect Cecilia Mata, Robbins’ base salary will be reduced by 10% and his “individual at-risk and multiple year performance compensation” will be eliminated

Robbins and the board noted that this course of action was Robbins’ own recommendation. According to the statement from the board, these reductions will be scheduled at the next ABOR meeting, which is April 17-19 at the UA

In 2023, ABOR approved a contract extension for Robbins that stretched his leadership at the university until at least June 30, 2026, and which also increased his annual base salary to $816,008. 

In addition to this cut in his salary, Robbins also said the university is examining senior leadership positions for places to cut costs further. 

“We also are taking a hard look at how to cut more costs in central administration, including a review of every vice president, vice provost, associate/assistant vice president and associate/assistant vice provost position,” Robbins said in the email statement. 

The statement also included updates on other elements of the UA’s financial action plan. 

According to Robbins, the university will no longer be pursuing a retirement incentive program.

Additionally, Robbins responded to concerns about layoffs at the university. According to his Tuesday statement, “There will be no university-wide, across-the-board layoffs. We are working with division and college leaders to review budget plans and to develop specific strategies for each individual unit to rightsize spend. We expect to know more about any reductions or adjustments, including potential layoffs, in late April as Fiscal Year 2025 budgets become finalized.”

ABOR updates

In other ABOR news, recent leadership changes have taken place after recent turmoil within the board and across the campus community. 

According to a statement from the board, former ABOR Chair Fred DuVal stepped down from his leadership role on Feb. 29. The position was filled by Chair Elect Cecilia Mata.

“It’s imperative that we move away from the heat of rhetoric and politics and refocus on addressing the genuine challenges facing our institution […]. By resigning as board chair, I want to do my part to create space for collaborative efforts toward real solutions,” DuVal said in the board’s statement announcing this change in leadership.

This announcement came in the midst of controversy surrounding DuVal and the UA Faculty Senate. At the Feb. 22 ABOR meeting, DuVal denounced the Senate following an accusation made by Faculty Chair Leila Hudson that DuVal had a conflict of interest concerning his work with Amicus Investors

DuVal’s criticism of the governing body was met with resistance from Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs who, just four days after the ABOR meeting, rebuked the behavior of the board towards the UA Faculty Senate. Hobbs called the board’s behavior “appalling and unacceptable” and demanded an in-person meeting with ABOR.

In the board’s statement, DuVal initially said he would be on the UA campus and available for meetings March 5-6. DuVal rescheduled these appearances so as not to conflict with the university’s spring break.

The regent will now be available to meet with members of the campus community March 20 from 3:30-5:30 and March 21 from 8:30-12:30 in the Agave Studio on the 4th floor of the Student Union.

“I have been in touch with many dozen faculty members and have advertised my email to stimulate the input we need from not just faculty but staff and students […] We must solve this together and in my remaining two years on the board I plan to do so constructively and with an open mind,” DuVal said in the statement.

In another leadership change within the board, ABOR Executive Director John Arnold is taking a leave of absence from the board “to concentrate on implementing critical strategies for the university’s financial stability,” according to ABOR

Arnold was another target of criticism from Hobbs, who in January expressed concern about Arnold serving as both the UA’s interim Chief Financial Officer and ABOR’s executive director. Chair Mata appointed ABOR Vice President of Academic Affairs and Institutional Analysis Chad Sampson to serve as the board’s interim executive director, subject to board approval.

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*This article was updated March 4 to reflect the correct salary figures obtained from public records.


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