By Mitra Taj
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Get to know...
The Arizona Board of Regents
About once every two months, a group of nine individuals convenes to make decisions that affect tens of thousands of students in the state.
Will the UA increase tuition again next year? Will future students go to a "regional university?" Will an academic program be eliminated or saved?
The Arizona Board of Regents, the governing body of Arizona's public university system, will have the final say on all of these issues and many more.
The regents, who are selected by the state governor and serve eight-year terms, discuss, study, and vote on issues like tuition, student programs, legal affairs, strategic planning, capital projects and university employee benefits and policies.
Every year, a student regent is selected to act as a nonvoting regent for one year followed by a year as a voting regent.
This year, Gov. Janet Napolitano picked UA law student and former student body president Ben Graff to be the new student regent, a position that rotates among the state's three universities.
UA President Peter Likins, together with ASU president Michael Crow and NAU president John Haeger, attend all regular ABOR meetings, which are open to the public.
Those who want to publicly address the board can do so for three minutes during the call to the audience at each meeting.
The next ABOR meeting is Aug. 19-20 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Because President Peter Likins is retiring in just two years, most new students will watch a new university president pick up where Likins leaves off. But the changes Likins has made at the UA in the past six years will be felt long after he's gone.
The 68-year-old former president of the small, private Lehigh University in Pennsylvania has been leading the UA since 1997, after winning the vote of approval from every regent.
As the main architect of Focused Excellence, an initiative that, in the midst of state budget cuts, has eliminated, restructured and merged academic programs; raised tuition and financial aid and is tightening admissions standards, Likins has drawn both praise and criticism.
Launched in 2002, Focused Excellence was proposed after ABOR approved the Changing Directions initiative, which allowed the state's three universities to pursue distinct missions.
Likins has also increased the percentage of tuition that goes toward financial aid from eight to 15 percent and in 2002 created the Diversity Coalition, charged with broadening diversity on campus.
In 1999, the activist group Students Against Sweatshops held a 10-day sit-in in Likins' office, until days and nights of negotiations with the activists produced a written agreement addressing how the university should battle sweatshop labor among the apparel companies that license the university's name.
While Likins has been praised for being a good listener, he has been criticized for, among other things, increasing tuition, failing to recruit and retain more faculty members, and failing to attract more minority students.
Likins is likely to continue making headlines at the UA as he works toward fulfilling his vision for the UA.
The former provost of Colombia University and engineering dean and professor has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 50 years. The two have raised a multiracial family that includes six adopted children.
Meet Alistair Chapman, this year's president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.
Last March, the physiology and molecular and cellular biology senior, campaigning on pledges to develop contracts to hold academic advisers accountable, work to stabilize the cost of tuition and increase representation for graduate students, beat opponent Josh Shapiro by 17 percent of the student vote.
On the day of his inauguration, Chapman said, "I was not elected into a position of power but a position of representation."
Over the summer, Chapman has been working on plans he said he hopes will increase the number of students who are registered to vote. Every new student's welcome packet will include a voter registration form, Chapman said, and a voter poll could be installed on campus in the fall.
A Rock the Vote concert free to students with voter registration cards could bring a big-name group to campus on Oct. 1, Chapman said.
Chapman is also one of four UA representatives in the Arizona Students' Association, a student lobbying group.
When plans for restructuring the university system broke, Chapman and other ASA representatives voiced student concerns about how diversity would be maintained at the UA and ASU and whether ASU West and NAU diplomas would be devalued.
Despite ASA pushing for student representation in the workgroup conducting the feasibility study of the restructuring proposal, not one student will sit on the 18-member board, a decision Chapman called "appalling."
Chapman said he is still working at getting a student representative in the group. This is especially important, he said, because students will be the most impacted by restructuring.
Chapman also spoke last month to former voting student regent Danelle Kelling about a project that would use tuition revenue to fund debt service to pay for building repairs at the UA, the first time tuition would be used for those purposes.
Kelling brought up Chapman's concerns before regents unanimously approved the project, reminding board members that students want every possible alternative considered before turning to tuition revenue in the future.
ASUA is planning a three-day retreat, Bear Down Camp, for incoming freshmen in the middle of August.
The camp is intended to interest students in getting involved on campus. Students that attend the camp usually become involved in the ASUA freshman council or other committees within ASUA, said Jordan Miller, ASUA administrative vice president.