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The Daily Wildcat

 

Regents committee meetings cover finances, student debt and college readiness

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Tom Price

Regent Greg Patterson, Chairman of the Regents Jay Helier and UA President Ann Weaver Hart listen to committee reports on Thursday, Nov. 19. 

The Arizona Board of Regents gave reports on their committee meetings Thursday. The reports covered the audit committee, the business and finance committee and the academic and student affairs committee, each of which met Nov. 18.

The audit committee started the event by reporting on their discussion and findings. Regent Bill Ridenour stated that reports from the auditor general, internal auditors and external auditors were reviewed, including annual university financial audits and management letters. Internal audits also covered academics, health services, athletics and information technology.

Ridenour reported that for the first time in over a decade, the auditor general did not have any findings in their financial audits management letters to report. There were recommendations for improvements of several audits, however, Ridenour did not think they were significant enough to discuss during the report.

Annual audit plans were also discussed during the committee meeting.

“It is still early in the year, but the chief auditors report making good progress on their fiscal year 2016 plans,” Ridenour said.

According to Ridenour, Arizona State University’s chief audit executive has taken a position at North Texas University, leaving a position at ASU that needs to be filled. They are now searching for a new chief auditor but do not expect their 2016 audit plan to be affected significantly by this search.

The audit committee also approved new internal audit review boards as part of the audit redesign to be authorized by regents in a new board policy.

The Business and Finance Committee then reported on their findings. There are several new proposals set to be adopted, including the Roy Place Building lease agreement for the UA to rent a building in downtown Tucson, according to the board’s consent agenda. The full year financial results of 2015 and the quarterly update of financial status were reviewed by the committee during the event.

“I think all of us as regents feel assured that we are able to make correct decisions on finance and capital because we are provided with detailed, clear, concise information that helps us answer the questions that we need before we make decisions,” said Regent Treasurer Rick Myers, who reported on the Business and Finance Committee.

The committee also talked about ideas to better award financial aid to students. Myers said they want to reach a broader amount of students and help them have better results with this aid.

“If we can help them to achieve their desires, gain what they need to gain out of their college experience, as well as to get the college with financial aid, that would certainly be good,” Myers said.

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee gave the last report of the three. Greg Patterson, vice chair of the board, reported that there were nine presentations given during the committee meeting, including financial aid reports and high school statistics.

According to Patterson, Arizona student loan debt is typically lower than that of students in other states. Yet, the amount of students graduating with debt is “creeping up a little bit.”

Patterson also discussed the committee’s report on community college transfer credits. He emphasized that the board wants to make these transfers as “seamless as possible.”

The committee also discussed the high school report card that includes statistics like how many students take dual enrollment classes in high schools and how many students continue on to college in public Arizona universities. About 84 percent of Arizona students who went on to attend college in public Arizona universities went in with no deficiencies in credit, according to Patterson. He said that getting this statistic higher is one of the board’s goals.

“We want as many people to graduate as possible. You want them to be as qualified as possible. Then you want them to attend universities if that is their goal,” Patterson said. “We would like to make sure that is their goal.”


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