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Regents act wisely in tuition delay

Citizen Staff Writer

Tuition increases for students attending the three state universities have been pretty painful for the past several years.

So it’s a relief to know that the Arizona Board of Regents is taking a cautious approach to the next round of increases.

The regents, who govern the university system, agreed Thursday to delay a decision on tuition increases for a month in hopes that the state Legislature will come up with more money for higher education.

It’s a calculated risk based on the fact that the state has more money available this year and thus, more might be appropriated for the universities.

“It would be wise for us to put this off” in hopes the political process plays out in favor of more funding, Regent Dennis DeConcini said at Thursday’s meeting.

Regent Robert Bulla said the state has more money and he hopes “the Legislature will do the right thing for the students, the community and the state of Arizona.”

That’s a high hope, but a good one, and it is shared by University of Arizona President-designate Robert Shelton. Shelton said last week he wants to show legislators how more state funding for the universities can help improve Arizona overall.

The regents and Shelton are on the same, correct path. Let’s hope that the universities and their students can persuade the Legislature to get on that path, too.

UA in-state tuition has risen 75 percent since the 2002-03 academic year, including a $1,000 increase that year for state resident undergraduate students and smaller increases in the subsequent three years.

Painful as they were, the increases were needed to keep the universities afloat because of reduced state funding.

Some of the stinginess was driven by the state’s dire financial situation, some by legislators who don’t see the university system for what it is – the most important key to the state’s economic future.

UA President Peter Likins has asked for a relatively modest 4.6 percent in-state tuition increase for 2006-07.

Action by the Legislature in the coming weeks to increase university system funding could mean an even smaller increase than what Likins is seeking.

It also could mean greater opportunity for more deserving Arizonans to get college educations and thus contribute to the state’s economic future.

UA and Saturn

One need look no further than the University of Arizona’s geosciences program to find proof of the need for improved funding of higher education.

That’s where Jason Perry, a senior, is helping analyze information coming back from the Cassini spacecraft now circling the planet Saturn and its moons.

Perry and others have discovered in their analysis that Saturn moon Enceladus may have water geysers erupting from it.

If further study bears that out, it will be the first evidence of liquid water in the solar system outside of Earth.

A composite infrared spectrometer aboard Cassini detected a warm area and the distinct possibility of the water geysers, Perry said. He co-authored a research paper on the topic in the current issue of Science, which was published Friday.

Congratulations to Perry and his UA scientist mentors, among them Alfred McEwen, of the Cassini imaging team.

This could well prove to be an important discovery, brought to you by an investment in higher education.

Let’s have more.

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