TEMPE - While topics of discussion ranged from neuroscience research to the revised Arizona University System architecture, all of the issues brought up at the Arizona Board of Regents meeting on Aug. 6 and 7 in Tempe shared one concern - managing the budget.
The first day of the Board meeting focused heavily on approving research funds and institutions for the 2010 Fiscal Year.
The Board of Regents approved a $6,632,244 revised budget for the Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) at the UA. TRIF primarily supports research and developments in bioresearch, optical sciences and water and environmental sustainability.
The fund suffered substantial budget cuts over the last few years - the fund experienced a 23 percent cut in 2009 - and continues to fall.
In addition to the TRIF, the UA will receive more funding for graduate medical research.
An Intergovernmental Agreement between the Regents and Pima County will provide for $18.5 million in federal funding in support of graduate medical education programs.
UA will provide $2.9 million to be combined with an equal amount from Pima County in order to secure the federal research funds.
In total, the preliminary FY 2010 Arizona University System state expenditure is projected to be $1.8 billion. $1.1 billion will be received from general funds while $691 million will come from tuition and fee revenues.
Recognizing that reductions of state funds are imminent for the FY 2010, the Board of Regents requested that the universities present their FY 2010 all-funds budgets at the Board meeting on Sept. 24 and 25 on the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff.
Increased enrollment ""more feasible"" than new colleges, Shelton says
President Robert Shelton briefly elaborated on the proposed plan to expand UA enrollment by 10,000 students by the year 2020.
Originally introduced at the June Board meeting, ""10K by 2020"" hinges on an extensive development of partnerships with local community colleges rather than the development of multiple new campuses.
""From the perspective of the UA, new four-year colleges are not financially feasible,"" Shelton said.
Through the development of regional-specific programs, the UA plans on creating multiple degree pathways for non-traditional students that will utilize the traditional classroom setting, as well as online resources.
""The one thing that is clear is that Arizonans want choices when it comes to their education,"" said Regent Ernest Calderon.
To conclude the Day One session, the Regents examined the 2009 Annual Report on wages earned by Arizona University System graduates.
Dan Anderson, assistant executive director for institutional analysis for the Board of Regents, opened his presentation by illustrating the financial benefits of obtaining a degree in the state.
""Arizona residents with a bachelor's degree earn approximately $20,000 more than residents without a degree,"" said Anderson.
In 2007, graduates from Arizona's public universities between 1990 and 2007 earned nearly $9.4 billion in wages in Arizona and paid $678 million in state and local taxes.
The median wage for Arizona State University graduates in 2007 was $46,846 while at the UA, the median wage for a bachelor's degree was $44,964.
""One (dollar) out of $5 in Arizona is earned by an Arizona System graduate,"" Anderson said.
Regents on Board with national education plan
Lasting all of 45 minutes, the second and last day of the Board of Regents meeting was brief and to the point.
The Regents approved a new Health and Learning Center at Northern Arizona University costing just over $106 million. In addition, the Board approved an extension to the contract of the Arizona State University men's head basketball coach Herbert Sendek to serve through June 30, 2014.
The Board received a report on the legislative activities of the third special session of the 49th Legislature, which convened on July 6 and remains in session.
During the session, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed what would have been $139.7 million in permanent reductions to the University System.
The Board received a report on National Higher Education Issues from Christine Thompson, assistant executive director for government affairs for the Regents.
The report included a summary of President Barack Obama's FY 2010 education budget, which includes just under $68 billion in programs within the Department of Education, an increase of $6.2 billion from the FY 2009.
In addition, Thompson gave an overview of Obama's American Graduation Initiative, a 10-year, $12 billion plan to increase community college graduates nationwide by five million.
To conclude the meeting, the Board noticed the recent formation of a panel by the National Academies to assess the competitive position of the nation's universities. The panel has been requested by a bipartisan group of four congressional leaders to identify the top 10 actions that research universities, Congress and local governments can take to maximize the research capacity of American universities.