Arizona Board of Regents OKs changes to McKale Center, new board president's contract
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article reported that the Corrections Corporation of America lobbied for SB 1070. This error was linked to a report by NPR that was later corrected. This story has been updated to reflect the correction.
Protesters were removed from Thursday’s meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents after multiple interruptions. Despite the outbursts, the regents approved improvements to McKale Center, the new board president’s contract, and a performance incentive addendum to UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s contract, among other agenda items.
Speakers weigh student fee’s future
The public meeting began with a call to the audience. Mark Naufel, president of the undergraduate student government on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, commended the board for its earlier decision to suspend a $2 student fee that funds a student lobbying group.
Amid controversy over allegations of misspending fee money, regents suspended a fee collected for the Arizona Students’ Association in November. Naufel encouraged regents to eliminate the fee entirely.
However, Sammy Smart, president of the Associated Students of Northern Arizona University, requested that the board reinstate the fee.
Protesters removed from meeting
A number of outbursts by audience members interrupted a presentation of the board’s internal audit.
Protesters demanded Regents Dennis Deconcini and Anne Mariucci resign from their positions on the board of directors for Corrections Corporation of America, which provides correctional and detention facilities throughout the country.
After three interruptions, police escorted the protesters out of the ballroom.
Following the outbursts, Regent John Huppenthal advised that a separate meeting be held to address the issue of protesting at public meetings.
“It is a bullying tactic in this situation,” Huppenthal said, “and I think we need to demand respect from everybody in the audience.”
Regent Mark Killian added that the outcries questioned the integrity of the two board members.
“I find that unacceptable,” Killian said. “These two regents have served this state very well and they work very hard on behalf of the students.”
Regents OK first phase of UA cancer center project in Phoenix
After a recess, the meeting continued with a vote to pass all items on a consent agenda, which would only be discussed if a regent proposed discussion of any of the items. The consent agenda was voted to pass unanimously without discussion. An overview of conclusions drawn from the state universities’ financial reports followed the votes.
One of the items on the agenda was the temporary suspension of the $2 per-student fee collected by the Arizona Student Association. The University of Arizona Cancer Center – Phoenix project was also on the consent agenda. The first phase of the project was approved and will cost $100 million.
Mariucci said that Arizona’s state university’s net revenues have decreased by 5 percent due to money being invested in scholarships and financial aid. Despite raised tuition and having fewer resources the universities were operating with “efficiency and stewardship.”
In terms of debt relative to the resources and capacity to pay the debt, Arizona is “in as good a shape as almost any other public institution around,” Mariucci added.
“It’s just remarkable that we have been able to spend the money have and build the buildings that we’ve done all while growing,” Mariucci said. “And have the pressures and public support that we have and putting the money away to make our financial strength stronger.”
Representatives from each university explained the projects they’ve added to the Capital Development Plan. The UA’s additions included a south stadium parking structure, improvements to the McKale Center and a renovation and expansion to the Chemistry Building. The three projects total $177.7 million.
Milton Castillo, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the UA, explained that there has been an increase in demand for parking since two residence halls have been built, reducing parking spaces in the south area of campus.
The McKale Center improvements, Castillo said, are to improve the fan experience and to make space for other athletic programs to move in once the football program moves to the north end zone.
The Interdisciplinary Chemical Science building renovation and expansions is an attempt to bring the old building up to date with the necessary technology to perform research. Castillo said the UA plans to take down the back half of the building and replace it with a 5 or 6-story lab building.
Students, faculty and staff will then be moved to the new building while the historic part of the building is remodeled to classrooms and administrative offices, Castillo explained.
“Our plan, I think, is rather innovative,” Castillo said. “It has both an educational and a research function.”
A Health Education and Advanced Technologies building was removed from the agenda. Castillo said that while the need for the project is there, it isn’t well defined yet. The project would have cost an additional $111 million.
“After a closer investigation and review we decided that the volumes of our debt were getting a little higher than we like,” Castillo said.
Board approves ABOR president contract, UA president’s addendum
The board also approved Eileen Klein’s three-year employment contract. Klein, former chief of staff for Gov. Jan Brewer, said she will focus on four main areas — driving operational excellence, building the capacity of the educational system, growing the brand for the enterprise and cultivating champions.
“Each of our university presidents does an excellent job of making sure that we have strong brand affiliation for those institutions,” Klein said. “But we need to make sure that Arizona as a whole has the brand and reputation of being an overall place of excellence.”
The board unanimously approved the addition of $25,000 of performance incentives to UA President Hart’s employment agreement. The incentives include $15,000 for a strategic plan and vision for the UA and $10,000 to bring together a team of effective and high quality UA leaders.