PHOENIX - Student Regent Benjamin Graff's Senate confirmation is one step away, but the senate Higher Education Committee said efforts have already started to expedite the process for future student regents.
Graff, a second-year UA law student, will be able to participate in all Arizona Board of Regents meetings once he is confirmed by the senate, but he will not be able to vote until the next academic year.
Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said she expects the whole senate to vote on Graff's confirmation late next week.
The confirmation allows him to attend the board's executive sessions, which are private meetings held to discuss presidential elections within the board and legal issues, for example.
Gray said she understands the process can be long and is working to speed it up for the next student regent.
"This year we're going to try, before the session ends, to have them appointed," Gray said.
Each student regent is selected from their university to serve the two-year term, which rotates between each of the three state universities. Each regent spends the first year as a non-voting student regent and the second as a voting student regent.
After the selection is made, the governor has to approve the appointment and then it goes to the Senate Higher Education Committee for confirmation.
Finally, the senate as a whole must confirm the student's appointment as a student regent. After confirmation, the student regent is able to attend all regents meetings, instead of just the public meetings.
Graff's appointment by Gov. Janet Napolitano came after the legislative session ended last year, so the committee could not confirm him before he began attending meetings last summer. Gray said as soon as she heard there was a delay in Graff's confirmation, she scheduled it for yesterday's meeting.
She said that for some reason the letter from the governor never reached her office, but she learned of the matter after being contacted by students, including Alistair Chapman, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.
Chapman said that when he heard Graff's confirmation was pending, he wrote his own letter to the committee encouraging them to speed up the process.
Chapman said he was very pleased with the end result, but it has taken a while for his confirmation to reach the Senate. Graff said he and Wes McCalley, the student regent from Northern Arizona University, can help smooth over the rough spots for the next student regent.
"Both Wes McCalley and I can take a much more involved role in moving the conformation along," Graff said.
McCalley echoed Graff's statement.
"We will do as much as we can," McCalley said.
Gray said students should get involved in the process and encourage the governor's office to move on nominating the next student regent as soon as possible.
McCalley said he is happy to be working with Graff to represent Arizona students.
"He's proven how good of a representative to students he can be," McCalley said.
Chapman said he also respects Graff's commitment and said he has been a strong advocate for students so far in his term as student regent.
Graff has served ASUA as president, vice president and senator, has been on the Faculty Senate and has served as Arizona Students' Association director.
"I can't think of a better honor than to represent over 100,000 Arizona students," Graff said to the committee.