Regents denounce state legislative bills
PHOENIX-In response to many recent bills concerning state universities proposed to the Arizona Legislature, the Arizona Board of Regents president on Friday said the Legislature is infringing on the board's responsibilities.
University-centered bills presented to ABOR Friday during their meeting at Arizona State University West was considered by some regents to be micro-management and sparked a 30-minute discussion.
In the past year, ABOR President Hank Amos has accused the state Legislature of not being committed to funding education and of not taking the regents seriously. Amos said he does not believe things will change in the near future.
More state funding is planned for K-12 education to raise the standard for Arizona's high school students.
"What we are doing with K-12 is building a foundation for the universities," said Lisa Graham-Keegan, Arizona superintendent of public instruction.
Amos said he is concerned that if the same amount of money is not put into the university system then students will not want to stay in Arizona.
"We're going to export them to other universities because that is where they are going to want to go," Amos said.
The legislative bills include the most recent measures sponsored by Rep. Jean McGrath, R-Glendale, that would limit student use of the Internet and opposite-sex dorm room visitors.
Many regents said they were concerned with the lack of presence they seem to have at the state Legislature and the body's sense of entitlement to run ABOR's affairs.
"This environment is becoming impossible to work with," said Regent Don Ulrich. "It's time we let them know who they really work for."
Other bills that board members are upset with include House bill 2473, which proposes to regulate universities' severance pay.
"This is micro-management at its apex," said Regent Judy Gignac.
Regents said they were not sure whether these bills are a product of outspoken Legislature, McGrath, or a trend against the responsibilities of ABOR.
"I don't know what's important down there anymore," Ulrich said.
In other ABOR news, UA officials will now begin planning for construction of a $5 million building that will provide office space for faculty and advisers after the board approved the project initiation Friday.
The Learning Services building will help accommodate the University of Arizona's lack of office space, UA President Peter Likins said.
Likins told ABOR the offices of many faculty in the Colleges of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences are located in converted off-campus houses or in various buildings around campus.
"It significantly diminishes the quality of educational experience and quality environment," Likins said.
Amos said he wondered if the proposal was a necessity to the UA.
"Do we need it that much right now, given our current state of affairs?" Amos asked.
Joel Valdez, UA senior vice president for business affairs, said, "changing office-space standards won't fix the problem."
The Learning Services Building will be finished by January 2000. Two projected sites are North Vine Avenue and East First Street or east of the Highland Avenue underpass.
In other ABOR news, the board approved:
A $6.4 million Agricultural Research Complex. The UA previously estimated the project to cost $4.5 million.
UA to spend up to $250,000 in advance planning and programming for the Chemistry expansion project, to be built on the south side of the Old Chemistry building. ABOR policy states universities cannot spend more than $100,000 for professional and consultation services but approved the UA's exception.
A $2.7 million gift-funded Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center facility on North Highland Avenue and East Second Street. SALT currently provides services to 500 students. The center expects to help an extra 150 students within the next five years. The new building will contain tutoring rooms, a computer laboratory, staff office space and a multi-purpose room.
A $7.5 million UA contract with NASA's Production of Resource on Mars In-Situ for Exploration project.
All Arizona universities to give in-state tuition to students from Clark County, Nevada and Kane and Washington counties, Utah.
Policies to ensure Arizona charter and home school students have an equal opportunity to receive tuition waivers and scholarships. The policy states a home school student who is unconditionally admitted to the UA and scores in the 90th percentile of the ACT or SAT will receive a merit tuition wavier. Charter school students would be eligible if they meet the same standards as public school graduates.
Three Regents Professors: Oscar J. Martinez, history; Soroosh Sorooshian, hydrology and water resources; and Barbara Timmermann, toxicology professor.