Ah, it seems like just yesterday we were all pondering campus issues associated with the state budget crisis, the UA Transformation, graduation rates and the like. Now those issues are going to be addressed by the Arizona Board of Regents during its January meetings this Thursday and Friday from Arizona State University’s West campus. Expect for it to be live-streamed on ABOR’s official website, and, of course, we’ll have all the reaction, recap and analysis here for you following the conclusion of each day’s event.
Let’s go through what’s sure to be riveting material that is slated to be taken up by the Regents:
- University budget reports – Each state university has been asked to present a plan to the Regents on Thursday outlining each university’s budget situation and how they will follow through on maintaining the prior plans set out in the should-be-infamous “2020 Vision” plan. ABOR has asked university representatives to keep the current state budget crisis in mind while formulating their plans. No word yet on what exactly the University of Arizona will report, but considering its current “2020 Vision” plan details, I wouldn’t be too optimistic for the future. Hey, at least a degree will be easy to come by. Now if only you could use it for something…
- Advice for the State Legislature: Stop fu**ing this up – Also included in the ABOR meetings will be this fun bit about how the Board will mull over the state budget fiasco and give its two cents. Some encouraging, although maybe not convincing, news out of the Regents’ legislative ponderings is that Gov. Jan Brewer has supposedly said that she is committed to keeping FY2011 Arizona University System funding at the same level as FY2010, although this seems like a reach because it’s been presented as a “well, you should do this, but we know you’re not going to” recommendation to the State Legislature on higher education funding. Such suspicions also seem all-but-confirmed when considering that once the higher education federal stimulus money stops flowing in 2011, the state will no longer be handcuffed by the “maintenance of effort” condition*, thus giving the legislature the abilities it’s been wanting to dismember the University System in the name of the almighty dollar and saving a lot of them. Also keep in mind that we’re talking about FY2011 in this paragraph, and we don’t even have a balanced budget for the current fiscal year, FY2010. The only condition keeping higher education funding off the chopping block for FY2010 is that they must maintain the level of funding that was present in 2006 (*the “maintenance of effort” condition mentioned above). So really, maintaining the FY2010 higher education funding into the 2011 fiscal year is not some giant leap in the right direction; it just keeps us where we were four years ago, and it’s probably also just delaying the inevitable.
Also, the governor’s proposed budget calls for a 5 percent across-the-board pay reduction for state employees. However, university officials will be exempt due to language in the “maintenance of effort” condition. So I guess at least they’re getting theirs.
- We’re not alone – As it turns out, maintaining quality in higher education settings is not just a problem for the State of Arizona. ABOR will also be touching upon the national issue of higher education as a whole, including the obstacles that go along with it. It’s worth a quick read. They even have a top 10 list for higher education issues. Number 1 on the list: “States’ fiscal crises”—you don’t say?
- Numbers, numbers everywhere – The Board will also make their usual presentation on graduation rates and financial aid statistics, although they look largely like these.
That’s all for now. Make sure to check back Thursday and Friday for ABOR recap.