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7% hike in UA dorm rates OK’d

Citizen Staff Writer



TEMPE – University of Arizona students who want to live on campus will have to pony up $4,700 to $5,999 next year, an average increase of about 7 percent over this year’s rates, depending on which residence hall they live in.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved increases to residence hall rates at UA and residence hall rates and mandatory meal plan rates for Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University on Thursday at its meeting at Arizona State University, with Regent Anne Mariucci the lone dissenter.

Mariucci said she would approve the rate increases, but only if a guaranteed rate provision in the Northern Arizona University proposal was removed for incoming freshmen.

“I generally support predictability in areas if we know (the unit) is paying for itself,” Mariucci said. “No one would make the argument that any of these rates are recovering their costs.”

While she conceded that residence hall rental rates cover current operating costs, as well as paying administrative fees to the universities that the institutions can use to plug budget holes, those rates do not cover the capital costs of building the halls.

NAU’s average increase will be about 12 percent, with that rate guaranteed for two years. ASU’s average increase is between 6 percent and 7 percent, depending on the campus on which the residence hall is located.

The increase at UA comes on top of a nearly 10 percent increase in tuition and fees for resident undergraduates next fall approved in December and the serious possibility of additional fees of $1,065 that UA President Robert N. Shelton said are necessary to avoid “permanent damage to excellent core programs.” The additional fees have are expected to be approved by the regents at a meeting later in the spring, and if they are, the sticker price for tuition, fees and room and board for undergraduate students would range from $11,841 to $13,140 depending on the dorm the student chooses.

Shelton emphasized that the fees will be necessary to make up for expected state cuts of up to $50 million to UA’s budget in fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

“University leaders have consistently noted that reductions taken in the second half of fiscal year 2009 greater than 10 percent, or $40 million, would force the university to bring forward addition tuition and fee proposals beyond what was approved in December 2008,” Shelton said.

He said the fees would “only mitigate the substantial erosion” to the university’s programs based on this year’s cuts to UA, which have amounted to about $77 million since July. Documents provided at the meeting show that the increased fees could raise $29.6 million.

In other business, regents listened to plans from the three university presidents to increase the number of degrees granted at each at a lower cost per student and called for the presidents to join together and come up with a “systemwide architecture” to eliminate duplication and increase access in all areas of the state.

Shelton said UA would increase the number of students enrolled at UA by 14,000 by 2020, and that 10,000 of those students will be served through online courses and “distributed instruction” made possible through partnerships with community colleges and businesses and community resources in rural areas.

He said a focus would be offering degrees that are high quality but “needs-based” for particular communities, with UA working closely with businesses in specific areas to provide degrees for students in those areas that they are interested in. Examples are teacher education, commerce, information science and logistics.

“UA South (in Sierra Vista) isn’t interested in a degree in nuclear physics,” he said. “But they are interested in degrees in teaching, business, security issues. We have to make sure we are offering degrees that are relevant to those communities.”

Regent Robert Bulla said the proposals from UA, NAU and ASU were “really exciting,” but said a strategic plan needed to be brought forth by summer “that outlines the roles and missions of each of the three universities.”

Fred Boice, board president, gave the presidents six design parameters to use when coming up with an idea of how to restructure the university system to best serve the state.

“The presidents should come together and say, ‘This is what we can do and do well’ and not just redesign within their universities, but coordinate the system,” Boice said.

Regents OK 7 percent increase in UA dorm rates

University presidents: Budget cuts spurring faculty flight

In the midst of all the budget discussions at the regents meeting, NAU President John Haeger said his university “is losing faculty even as we speak,” when trying to impress upon regents how important state funding is to universities.

That prompted UA President Robert N. Shelton to reveal that a recent request by three UA deans led him to call five UA faculty who “have gotten significant offers elsewhere” to try to persuade them to keep their teaching and research in Tucson.

Shelton would not reveal which professors had been approached by academic poachers or what he offered to get them to stay, but conceded that Arizona’s negative investment in higher education leads good professors to look elsewhere.

“The best anchor we have on people now is they can’t sell their homes,” he said.

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