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Promises of fee reform fall short at Arizona Board of Regents meeting

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Hannah Plotkin and Hannah Plotkin | The Daily Wildcat Screen shot by Hannah Plotkin / Arizona Summer Wildcat Eileen Klein, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, speaks at a board meeting at Northern Arizona University on Thursday. Klein discussed several issues, including the board's financial decisions for the upcoming school year.

The Arizona Board of Regents held its monthly meeting at Northern Arizona University on Thursday and Friday to discuss financial issues facing the state universities.

Eileen Klein, president of the board, spoke about the current challenges, one of which is a lack of state funding.

“Our entities are not as publicly financed or funded as they used to be, but we operate very much in the public interest irrespective of funding sources,” Klein said.

Klein said that all three universities have developed strategic plans that align with the board’s 2020 goals. She said that the strategic plans allow the public to see how the universities help meet the needs of the state of Arizona, therefore helping them earn public trust.

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The strategic plans are not the only way the board is attempting to increase transparency in funding. Klein said that the UA will change the current online billing statements so that students can see a detailed description of the purpose of mandatory fees.

In a previous interview, Klein said that the regents were going to review student fees in their summer session to see what the funds were being used for and if they were necessary. However, the board-approved fees for the UA for the 2014-15 school year were not lowered, and the combined cost of tuition and mandatory fees increased for all students.

The cost of tuition and fees for incoming resident undergraduates has increased 5.4 percent from the previous year. The combined cost has increased 1.8 percent for resident undergraduates enrolled prior to 2014 and 8.7 percent for nonresident undergraduates.

The board also discussed the UA’s capital development plan, which totaled $413.8 million. The plan included five previously-approved projects and a proposal for a building project in Phoenix. The $136 million building project was approved.

The board also approved a retention plan for multiple athletics employees at the UA. Sean Miller, men’s basketball head coach, was offered a contract extension through 2019 with a base salary of $1.6 million by the last year of the contract. Additionally, Greg Byrne, athletic director and vice president for athletics, was offered a contract extension through 2019, with a proposed $25,000 raise each year of the contract.

The board reviewed and discussed the annual operating budget for Arizona State University, NAU and the UA in 2015. Reports stated that the total revenues for the three universities are projected to be $4.4 billion in the fiscal year of 2015. This is an increase of $247 million from 2014.


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Updated December 8, 2021