By Keren G. Raz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday September 30, 2002
With the prospects of receiving additional funds from the state Legislature looking grim for next year, President Peter Likins submitted a new budget request to the Arizona Board of Regents on Friday that favored funding for research buildings over raises in what he called a political maneuver.
The new plan headed for the Arizona Legislature requests more than $12 million originally planned for salaries, hiring graduate assistants and undergraduate education be used instead for funding the construction of new research buildings.
This approach is more likely to persuade the Legislature to give UA money, since legislators will be able to see grant money rolling into the state from research conducted in the new buildings as soon as the buildings are finished, Likins said.
"If we tell the state that there's a return on (these funds), then that's more persuasive," he said.
However, he said "We're not abandoning anything."
This is basically a political maneuver, Likins said.
If the Legislature gives the UA the funds Likins wants, money that would have originally funded the construction of the research buildings will go for salaries, hiring more graduate assistants and undergraduate education.
"The dollars to fund these programs will come from the general fund, tuition, indirect cost recovery on research contracts and, as a small matter, investments," Likins said.
Likins is requesting $363 million from the Legislature for next year, as opposed to the $366 the Legislature gave UA for 2002-2003.
This change follows Likins' announcement during Thursday's portion of the two-day meeting that he would pursue a new direction for UA that he refers to as "Focused Excellence." The plan calls for an overhaul of UA's mission that would limit enrollment, increase tuition and eliminate some academic programs, while strengthening others, and giving special consideration to financially self-supporting programs.
The regents agreed to the overall idea of the plan, but do not have specifics yet on exactly how the plans will change the UA, or which programs may be cut. ASU President Michael Crow came up with the initial idea of requesting funds for research buildings rather than individual programs and said that funds for research buildings would generate much-needed funds for the university quickly.
"What we desperately need at this moment is a change in logic," Crow said. "We need capital resources that increase revenue from sources outside the state · We want to diversify our budget portfolio."
He requested $14 million to begin constructing research buildings at ASU.
Although Likins had written up the new budget requests on Wednesday and had planned to present them on Friday, he waited until Crow presented his proposal to the regents before submitting his own.
Likins said he wanted to see how the regents received Crow's plans. While the regents agreed with the budget proposals, they were upset that Likins and Crow had violated the board's policy in drawing up their new budget requests.
President Likins violated procedure by not submitting the new request to the regents 24 hours before the meeting, while President Crow violated procedure by asking the Legislature to fund buildings that had not been previously approved by the regents.
Regent Chris Herstam voted against approving the requests in order to send a message to the presidents that he disapproved of their procedural violations.
However, Herstam said that he agreed with the other regents that the presidents' new strategies merited support.
Regent Fred Boice was the first to voice his approval of Likins' budget request.
"I'm uneasy with having to make this change in 48 hours," he said. However, he added, "I think we have to make a leap of faith here and have confidence in both what our presidents have proposed and their ability to sell it to the state."
The presidents presented the regents with an initative called "Changing Directions," which would make the UA a more research-oriented university, allow ASU to accept thousands more students, and maintain NAU's role a liberal arts institution. Boice called strategies described in the plan a shift toward running the universities like businesses.
"We're seeing the first sign of what ĪChanging Directions' can actually mean," said NAU President John Haeger.
A key aspect of "Changing Directions" is to focus on how to reshape the universities' plans into a model that seeks additional outside revenue sources besides the state. The ability to generate outside sources of revenue is becoming increasingly crucial for the survival of the universities, the regents stressed.
Expectations remain low that the Legislature will allocate additional funds to the university for next year.
"We might not get anywhere with (the new request), but it makes sense," said regents' President Jack Jewett.
"I have no illusions of a positive response from the state Legislature about this request," Likins said.
Regents and university presidents expect few additional funds to be allocated, and predict that the state Legislature will cut the university's budget more this year. Initial reports predict a 10 percent cut, which would amount to a $33 million loss in UA funding.
"The press and the media talk about a 10 recision," Likins said. "That's $33 million. Last year, with extraordinary difficulty we took half that much out of our budget. Last year, we lost 333 people and saved $16.5 million. Now they want $33 million. It's not possible to get that amount of savings by just reducing the workforce. So we need to talk about more creative ways, and I invite all suggestions."
Jenny Rose contributed to this report.