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Regents want more information on proposed university restructuring


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SAUL LOEB/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA President Peter Likins said if a redesign proposal is presented and passed, UA will be the least impacted of any institution.
By Lisa Rich
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 19, 2004
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The redesign project for Arizona university systems was updated yesterday at the Arizona Board of Regents meeting. Although the Feasibility and Planning group has yet to provide any cost estimates or reconstruction plans, a final proposal will most likely be presented to the board in May 2005, said Mary Jo Waits, project coordinator.

Last June, concerns were brought to the board about anticipated growth in student enrollments through 2020. At that meeting, the board authorized a Feasibility and Planning study group to research the potential overpopulation problem and present solutions to accommodate a growing student body.

Waits said the study group is still in their first phase of collecting data, and has broken down into three subcommittees to research the problem in greater depth. Subcommittees are categorized by data collection, state experience and evaluation criteria.

The data collection committee focuses on the needs and demands of each Arizona institution, focusing specifically on projections for enrollment, market demands, education payments and demographics, Waits said.

The state experience committee is comparing Arizona institutions with those of 10 other states such as California and Pennsylvania. Waits said this committee is comparing factors such as tuition, faculty, administration and student ratios.

The evaluation criteria is preparing drafts of questions to evaluate the 15 proposals currently under review, and will be responsible for making recommendations to improve or combine proposals, Waits said.

"We're getting very close to finishing the depth analysis," Waits said. "I expect we will be finished by the end of December, January 15th at the latest."

In the meantime, Waits said eight groups of 25 to 30 stakeholders are working with the committees to review and simplify collected data for the final proposal. Stakeholders are volunteers, chosen by the Feasibility and Planning group to represent a wide variety of people with different ideas and opinions, Waits said.

Gary Stuart, president of the board of regents, asked Waits to specify collected information, such as cost expectations and development ideas, in an hour presentation in January 2005. The date for the presentation has not yet been determined.

"We all need to be patient and let this project take its process," Stuart said.

"It would be helpful to get verbal reassurance with data consistent with the needs assessment that created the design effort."

If a redesign proposal is presented and passed in May, the UA will be the least impacted of any Arizona institution, said UA President Peter Likins.

"It swirls around us, but it does not alter the course of UA," Likins said. "We already have a designed mission to excel in student research."

Likins said since the university plans to cap enrollment at approximately 40,000 students, the problem of overpopulation is not as severe as the other schools; however, the idea to redesign the university systems is essential for other Arizona institutions, he said.



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