By Jenny Rose
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday September 27, 2002
TEMPE ¸ The Arizona Board of Regents praised yesterday the overview of President Peter Likins' plans to limit enrollment and cut some academic programs that are not financially self-supporting or essential to research, and to increase tuition and financial aid.
Several board members said Likins' plans should be put into action as soon as possible, since the proposal is intended to reduce the UA's reliance on the Legislature and tax money.
The regents never got into specifics about how Likins' proposals should be carried out, or of which particular ones they approved.
More explicit plans will be released at the end of October or beginning of November.
The three university presidents' initiative, dubbed "Changing Directions," would transform the UA into a more research-intensive institution, ASU into a larger university that would cater to the majority of Arizona residents and NAU into an institution focused on more of a liberal arts education.
The regents are expected to make a final decision about the "Changing Directions" initiative before the end of this academic year.
"We need to focus on what are the consequences of not getting to where we want to be," said regent and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Jaime Molera.
But following Likins' plan means certain cuts for some academic areas, which he has compared in size to the closure of Arizona International College, and that he said he would make even in the case of academically strong departments.
Like other universities nationwide, UA is forced to make these choices, said regents spokesman Matt Ortega, adding that the Arizona State Legislature would have forced UA to narrow it's mission if UA hadn't done it by choice.
Likins said that he has discussed "Changing Directions" with all deans and department heads and received a positive response. However, he said that the sentiment is not likely to last long once the administration begins to cut programs.
But avoiding narrowing UA's goals amidst shrinking funds would lead to weaker academic units, he stated in the memo to the campus community.
"This is, for us, for the system, and for the people of the state of Arizona, a perilous moment," said UA President Peter Likins. "We need to help people understandĚ that the trends of the status quo will lead to very severe, permanent damage to higher education."
UA's budget is about $1 billion annually, including funds from donations and grants. The nearly $350 million that the university got from the Arizona State Legislature last year supports programs that do not bring in research dollars or specific gift monies.
Last year the Arizona State Legislature cut $16.6 million from UA's budget.
Meanwhile, federal grants and often gift monies can only be used for specific programs.
"We're not running out of money. We're running out of unrestricted money," Likins said.
To remedy UA's budget woes, Likins wants to restrict admissions to UA, raise tuition and focus the university's mission on research.
There isn't much hope among the regents that the universities will survive the budget crunch intact by relying on the state to appropriate more funds for higher education.
"The data is as grim as it could be," said regent Gary Stuart.
Keren G. Raz contributed to this report.