The Arizona Board of Regents, the governing body appointed to oversee Arizona’s three public universities, held the first of two day-long public meetings on the University of Arizona campus on Thursday, April 11.
Hundreds of student and community protesters flocked to the meeting, in an effort organized by the Coalition to Support the "Arizona 3," to voice their support of three UA students facing misdemeanor criminal charges after disrupting a club meeting on campus featuring speakers from Border Patrol.
After hearing from a number of students during a call to the audience, the regents proceeded to approve tuition increases at all three of Arizona’s public universities, approve the development of two new majors on campus and appoint five new regents' professors.
Regents face student, community protesters
With an increased police presence, student and community protesters filled the North Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center to capacity. Before hearing student concerns during a call to the audience, the regents adjourned to allow the university time to reorganize the ballroom and accommodate all remaining protesters.
Many protesters taped their mouths shut in solidarity with three UA students who, protesters argued, are unfairly facing criminal charges for exercising their rights to free speech on campus.
Mira Patel, a UA student and DACA recipient, presented three demands to the regents and the UA, to the applause of assembled protesters.
Patel demanded the regents and university drop the charges against the three students, do everything in their power to prevent Border Patrol from coming to campus and, if they fail to meet these demands, that President Dr. Robert C. Robbins' should resign.
Proposal to increase UA tuition adopted
Undergraduate tuition for new UA students from Arizona will increase by two percent next year, while for new out-of-state students the increase will be one percent, after the regents voted to approve UA’s tuition and fee proposal.
The regents approved a mandatory meal plan for the approximately 1,100 students expected to live in the new Honors Village next year. Due to new policies, the regents were asked by the UA to approve a number of existing class and program fees which were previously implemented without a regent vote.
“Setting tuition and fees for the universities is the most important thing the board does every year,” John Arnold, ABOR executive director, said in a video released in preparation for the regents meeting. “Maintaining access and affordability at our universities is one of the key missions of the board.”
The proposal also increases tuition for graduate and medical students on campus. No new increases in mandatory fees were adopted. Current students will see no tuition changes, thanks to UA's guarantee tuition program.
The regents approved a proposal by its own Finance, Capital and Resources Committee requiring universities to inform the regents of any decreases or eliminations in academic fees and to incorporate a new category of students fees, called college fees (proposed by Arizona State University), into its rules.
New UA college, majors receive go-ahead
The regents approved a UA proposal to create two new Bachelor of Science degrees, one in biosystems analytics on the main campus and another in agricultural systems management at the Yuma campus. This approval allows the UA to offer the new majors as soon as next academic year.
The regents also approved of the disestablishment of UA’s Bachelor of Science in Education in special education and rehabilitation. The UA introduced three new Bachelor of Science in Education degrees last semester, splitting the former program into more focused Deaf studies, mild-moderate disabilities and rehabilitation studies service programs to better serve students.
To ensure UA’s veterinary medical program becomes fully accredited, the regents voted to create a College of Veterinary Medicine at the UA, effective next academic year. The new college will be Arizona’s first publicly accredited veterinary school.
Five UA professors awarded honorary title
The regents voted to award five professors, recommended by fellow faculty and nominated by the UA, with the honorary title of regents' professor. Less than three percent of tenured Arizona professors receive this distinction.
UA’s new regents professors are Alfred McEwen from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, John Rutherfoord from the Department of Physics, Dr. Marvin Slepian from the College of Medicine, Lucy Ziurys from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Rod Wing from the School of Plant Sciences.
Check back with the Daily Wildcat next week to read a profiles highlighting each of these professor’s unique contribution to the UA through their scientific research and teaching.
Universities update lobbying strategy for State Capitol
During a meeting last semester, the regents released a report that showed Arizona's public universities contribute over $11 billion to the state economy. The regents cited the report a number of times during a discussion of the development and industry partnerships of UA's new Phoenix Biomedical campus.
Brittney Kaufmann is associate vice president of government affairs and community relations for the regents on board's legislative agenda, which includes a proposal to increase state funding to Arizona universities to cover 50 percent of Arizonan's undergraduate tuition.
Kaufmann briefed the regents on a number of student tuition waiver mandates from the state legislature. While the regents support these tuition waivers, they have asked the state legislature to provide funding for these mandates. While some of these mandates have received funding this year, a proposal to waive tuition for foster care residents has not, according to Kaufmann.
The regents voted to oppose Arizona House Bill 2677, which would provide new powers to Arizona's Auditor General, which the regents are concerned will detrimentally politicize the office.
Regents propose changes to admissions requirements and pension policies
The regents voted to update undergraduate admission requirements for Arizona’s public universities.
The changes, requested by the College Board, adjusts the necessary SAT scores high school students must attain in order to offset any deficiencies in high school credit hours.
The regents also reviewed a proposal to facilitate the implementation of the new university police department public safety personnel pension system. The proposal would bring the universities into accordance with new Arizona law.
The regents voted to amend their cash balance pension plan, which provides compensation to the universities’ presidents, to bring it in line with new regent contracts and increase the number of ABOR leaders who must approve compensation.
On April 12, the regents will hear an update on the implementation of UA’s Strategic Plan, which they approved last semester, from Health Sciences.
Check back to the Daily Wildcat for more coverage of the regents and the UA.
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