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Supervisors oppose closing ASU program

Citizen Staff Writer



A plan to close the only university-level program for social services in southern Arizona because of state budget cuts was unanimously opposed Tuesday by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

The board voted 5-0 to oppose a plan by Arizona State University officials to ax the program, which offers the only bachelor’s and master’s degree courses in social work in this part of the state.

The school was started in 1978 and serves about 200 students a year who do field work at social service agencies around southern Arizona. More than 1,000 have graduated since the satellite program began, Mark Clark, president and CEO of CODAC Behavioral Health Services in Tucson, told supervisors.

State law prohibits the state’s other universities – the University of Arizona here and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff – from offering duplicate programs.

It is unlikely that southern Arizona students in the program will drive to Maricopa County to take classes and do field work because many are older students who work, Ann Nichols, coordinator of the ASU program in Tucson, told the board.

ASU president Michael Crow announced last month that the southern Arizona program would be shuttered in December to help with an $88 million budget reduction imposed on the university by the Legislature.

“We need to keep providing quality folks to work in this field in southern Arizona,” Board Chairman Richard ElĂ­as said in making the nonbinding motion to oppose the closure.

The supervisors also approved an ordinance providing up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500 for people who knowingly provide wine or hard alcohol to underage drinkers or “fail to take reasonable action to prevent the illegal consumption” of spirituous alcohol on property they own or control.

About a dozen people urged the supervisors to adopt the measure to help combat what they said is an epidemic of alcohol abuse by the young.

“This will allow us to more effectively enforce the underage drinking law,” Lt. Tom Early of the Tucson Police Department told the supervisors.

Targeted are parents and other adults who allow people under 21 to consume fermented or distilled alcoholic beverages at home or on property over which they have control.

Tucson adopted a similar “social host” ordinance two years ago.

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