By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Arizona Board of Regents gave conceptual approval to the new core curriculum building despite concerns about current construction projects, the cost of the building and the university's high non-resident population.
The regents voted 6-1 to conceptually approve the Integrated Instructional Facility, which will be used for the proposed core curriculum as a "home base" for about 4,500 freshman students each year. The building will total 84,500 square feet and will cost approximately $20 million to build.
The board had approved the project's initiation in September, but had requested additional information from the university.
Bob Hatch, the University of Arizona deputy
vice president of Facilities Management, said the new building was necessary to provide the technology needed for the core curriculum.
"The building is designed for the specific methods of delivering us into the future; the core curriculum and the building are interrelated," he said.
President Manuel Pacheco said the extra space is needed on campus.
"I assure you while it may appear there is additional space available on campus, I have walked around on campus . and am appalled by the conditions we want our faculty and students to operate in," he said. "We have offices designed for three people that house 20 graduate assistants. We can't ask faculty to provide guidance when they have no private space."
Hatch said the additional space would also make it much easier to "take down whole buildings at a time for improvements."
Regent John Munger voted against approval, but added that he was against the concept of additional buildings and not the specific building.
"We are asking the university to at least partially fund the building out of their state operating budget," he said. "I disagree about trying to build a building at the expense of teaching."
Other regents expressed concerns about the building, but voted to approve it.
Regent Rudy Campbell said he was concerned about approving the building because the UA already had eight projects under construction, totaling $93 million. He also expressed concern about the university's high non-resident enrollment.
"Since the UA has 33 percent non-resident students, which is substantially higher than the board's policy, I disagree about building a new building to house out-of-state students," he said.
Regent Andy Hurwitz said although he agrees that this building is needed on campus, he is concerned that the board would lose credibility since they asked for the estimated cost of $16 million from the state legislature and the project now totals $20 million.
"We need to restore credibility," he said. "It was a mistake to send an estimate after project initiation."
In other business, the regents unanimously approved without discussion the purchase of Ben Zink V Bar V Ranch, which will be used as a research ranch for the university to study "environmental, wildlife and domestic livestock issues applicable to Arizona and the Southwest."
The owner, Ben Zink, will sell the 77,000-acre ranch near Camp Verde for $725,000, although the property was appraised at a higher value of $1,226,100.
The regents agreed to support the College of Medicine in lobbying for continuous involvement with the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. University Medical Center recently lost renewal of the AHCCCS contract, which Dean James Dalen said will hurt the quality of the medical college.
"There is no way for us to emphasize primary care if we don't have any primary care patients," Dalen said.
He said the hospital will ask the state legislature to adopt a plan that would give UMC a continuous involvement with AHCCCS, without being involved in the bidding process every three years.
The regents said they "strongly support the effort for the well-being of medical school."
Two regents expressed concern that the three state universities were spending too much money on art.
The universities spend 1 percent of the cost of each construction process on art, which sometimes allows art projects to total up to $60,000 or more.
Regents Munger and Hank Amos suggested establishing a new policy that would give grants to students to produce the art or to limit the total amount of the art projects.
"I can't substantiate spending $60,000 on art when the average taxpayer makes about $19,000 per year," Amos said.
The board also approved payment of $50,210 and $1,503 in health insurance to Leonard Pearlman, professor of music and director of the orchestra, to voluntarily release his tenured position. This amount represents about one year's salary.
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