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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Prexy meets tour leaders

    UA President Shelton addresses the Arizona Ambassadors about possible concerns of prospective students, during their weekly meeting Wednesday evening in Old Main.
    UA President Shelton addresses the Arizona Ambassadors about possible concerns of prospective students, during their weekly meeting Wednesday evening in Old Main.

    Several months ago, the Arizona Ambassadors scheduled UA President Robert Shelton to attend and speak at one of their meetings. Little did they know that meeting would fall in the midst of the greatest budget threat the UA has ever faced.

    At Wednesday’s ambassador meeting, Shelton answered questions, responded to concerns, and helped instruct the UA tour guide club on how to answer the tough questions they’ll undoubtedly face from prospective students touring the school this spring.

    “”I think honesty is the best policy,”” Shelton said. “”I think you can say (to potential students): we, like every university, both state and private, are under significant financial stress.””

    Shelton also said the ambassadors need to tell future students about the reality of what is happening both in Arizona and across the country.

    “”Now, it’s not going to be good, and we are going to have to take some major cuts,”” he said. “”I never thought I would say this, but if we can hold it to only 10 more percent this year, and another five next year, we will be all right.””

    Shelton said there is no clear fix to the budget situation, but he feels progress has been made through his efforts to persuade the Arizona Legislature to grant favor toward the state universities.

    “”Other then beat up on the legislatureðð, which I spend a lot of time doing in privateðð – you don’t gain when you beat them up in public – we’re making progress, actually,”” Shelton said. “”We are making good progress with the House, not such good progress with the Senate.””

    While the recent tuition caps at Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University have been cause for confusion for many UA parents and students, Shelton said that although the UA may be a more expensive school, it has the most stable financial model.

    “”It is a pyramid scheme,”” Shelton said. “”So what (the other schools) have done is say there is a tuition increase the Regents have approved for this fall. From then on, the tuition will be indexed to a maximum of a five percent increase. NAU is going to crash and burn on that financial model. I don’t say that with a smile. The only way they can sustain that is by huge growth.””

    Shelton said that while the UA’s model varies from the rest of the state-funded universities, he hopes it will yield better results.

    “”Arizona State did that and they are having some difficulties with their financial model, and you can see that because in the last tuition hearing, although it slid under the table, they introduced tons of new fees – not just for professional classes, but for undergraduates,”” Shelton said. “”They needed to do that because they were finding that their tuition model wasn’t generating the resources they needed for offering classes.””

    He advised the ambassadors to make sure parents and future students understand the risks of going to a different state university and to dispel misconceptions about the financial situation at the UA.

    “”If these are in-state parents, please tell them that you may have a sticker shock when you come, but once you are here it’s a five percent max increase,”” Shelton said. “”The best thing they can do to ensure that works is to elect people in the state government who value education.””

    Private universities, specifically Rice and Princeton, have an easier time dealing with budget cuts because their tuition distribution is more flexible, Shelton said. State universities, however, have strict regulations that must be followed when tuition is collected.

    Shelton also stressed to ambassadors that Tucson, comparatively speaking, has a low cost of living and many benefits that can draw students.

    “”This (is a) university town, a community that recognizes the dependence of the university and on the students,”” Shelton said. “”The student input really does make a difference, staff input as well.””

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