Regents Accept No Responsibility, Blame Others For Tuition Lawsuit

From: Why Are Arizona’s Universities Hiking Tuition?

The Arizona Board of Regents in September of 2015, while demanding more money from the Legislature, raised the salaries of all three university presidents. Arizona State University President Michael Crow received a $150,000 raise for the 2015 fiscal year for a total compensation of nearly $1 million. University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart received an increase of $115,000 for a total compensation of approximately $753,700. Northern Arizona President Rita Cheng received an increase of $40,000 for a total compensation of approximately $560,200.

As a frame of reference, the governor of Arizona earns $95,000 a year. According to Ballotpedia, members of the Legislature earn $24,000 each year (with per diem pay) for approximately 120 days in session. According to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, university presidents on average earn $377,261 annually, or more than twice the average pay for CEOs, who take home about $176,840 on average each year.

The chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents, Bill Ridenour refused to take responsibility for rising tuition costs on Monday in a letter to the Arizona Attorney General. Ridenour was responding to the news that the Attorney General’s Office is suing the Regents for increasing in-state tuition for the state’s three universities by nearly 400 percent since 2003.

The Arizona Constitution requires that “the university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.”

Ridenour claims that the Regents “first learned of through the news media.”

“The AG’s lawsuit – while it makes for good headlines – does nothing to change the burden for students and their families,” wrote Ridenour. “The suit is full of attacks, but offers no constructive remedies. The justice he seeks will not, and should not, be found at the courthouse.”

Despite the fact that the Legislature approved a massive funding scheme for the universities last Legislative Session, Ridenour claims that the “rising college costs and student debt” are “largely the result of a massive defunding of public higher education.”

A Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s partial baseline comparison shows that the universities have not faced cuts:

University of Arizona – Main CampusFY 2009 ACTUALFY 2012 ACTUALFY 2013 ACTUALFY 2014 ACTUALFY 2015 ACTUALFY 2016 ACTUAL
TOTAL – ALL SOURCES441,903,3001,547,027,1001,608,307,3001,606,925,0001,649,992,0001,796,781,900
Northern Arizona UniversityFY 2009 ACTUALFY 2012 ACTUALFY 2013 ACTUALFY 2014 ACTUALFY 2015 ACTUALFY 2016 ACTUAL
TOTAL – ALL SOURCES395,826,400461,675,700465,055,100490,967,900530,075,000630,599,300

The Attorney General noted in the lawsuit that “fifteen years ago (the 2002-2003 academic year), the base tuition and mandatory fees for in-state students starting as undergraduates at the three Universities was approximately $2,600 per year.”

As per the lawsuit, for the 2017-2018 academic year, base tuition and fees for in-state students starting as undergraduates is as follows:

Name of InstitutionResident Tuition and Mandatory Fees for 2017-18Increase Since 2002-03
University of Arizona – Main Campus$12,228370%
Northern Arizona University – Flagstaff Campus$11,059325%
Arizona State University – All Campuses$10,792315%

In contrast to the increases in tuition, the consumer price index has increased only 36% over the same approximate period, according to the Attorney General’s lawsuit.

Ridenour’s letter:

Related articles:

AG Sues Arizona Regents For Unconstitutional Tuition Hikes

Arizona University Leaders Call New Budget “Devastating”

Regents Reject End Of DACA In-State Tuition Until Court Rules

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ASU Foundation Tax Filings Reveal Little On Personal Ties, Lobbying Expenses

We welcome the Arizona Attorney General’s suit. We have long resisted filing a challenge against the state regarding the funding of universities and had chosen instead to work with Governor Ducey and the Arizona Legislature for a solution that would reduce the financial burden for students and their families.

This suit will allow us to present the facts to a court of law and seek clarification of our constitutionally mandated obligation to provide “instruction as nearly free as possible.” We can now address who will pay for that mandate.

Although we welcome the suit, we are disappointed in the attorney general’s tactics. The announcement of his concerns, and his decision to sue the board over them, came as a surprise, which we first learned of through the news media. The board knew the attorney general was being pressured regarding DACA students, but he has never registered his concerns about the board, its performance or that of the university system.

The AG’s lawsuit – while it makes for good headlines – does nothing to change the burden for students and their families. The suit is full of attacks, but offers no constructive remedies. The justice he seeks will not, and should not, be found at the courthouse. The challenges of rising college costs and student debt are not news. Rather, they are largely the result of a massive defunding of public higher education accompanied by a seismic cost shift that has moved education from a shared responsibility to an individual responsibility. Arizona is not unique in this regard; what is unique is that in FY 2017, Arizona ranks 48th in per capita support for higher education.

State budgeting in the wake of the Great Recession upended the traditional university financial model. The federal government has become a dominant player in the total state budget with health care, not education, now the state’s top funding priority. It is hitting university students the hardest: Just 10 years ago, the state funded approximately 75 percent of the educational costs for a resident student (this excludes the University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine). This year, the state will fund approximately 34 percent. Even so, we have taken every step to minimize the financial impact on Arizona’s students during the past 10 years. It’s important to remember that most students receive some type of financial aid and, as a result, the average tuition paid by resident students has only increased about $1,900 from 2007 to 2016. During the same time period, our universities added about 55,000 students.

The right to be educated at the highest levels is one of the greatest privileges granted to us as Americans, and it remains one of the surest paths to economic success. Education is the great “equalizer” in that it allows students and families of limited means and from all walks of life to pursue the American dream. More and more, that dream can only be achieved with financial aid and support.

To ensure that our universities remain accessible to all Arizonans, this board has been working diligently within the bounds of the law to create a new approach to university financing that curbs the actual cost of education for Arizona students.

Our resident student funding model has received broad community support as well as student support. Over the past several years, we have dramatically reduced the price increases for Arizona students, stabilized the costs of education, enhanced need-based aid and significantly increased accountability for results. At the same time, we have increased the system’s performance, raising graduation rates and enhancing quality that has been recognized across the nation and around the world. All the while, we have consistently and respectfully advocated for additional state support in the wake of the largest cuts to higher education in the United States, often with students by our side.

While much more remains to be done, we are proud of our progress on behalf of our state. Today we are home to more than 170,000 students, more than half of whom are Arizonans. Our universities are among the largest and most diverse in the country.

As the citizen board appointed to oversee university education, we struggle every day with the paramount issues of access and affordability. There needs to be a rational statewide discussion, without political pandering, regarding our entire education structure and funding model for K-12 and higher education, including university education.”

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  1. The Arizona Constitution states that education should be as affordable as possible. That went out the door 30 years ago with the state universities. Greed has taken over and people are getting rich off of students. I think all tuition should be cut 75% along with the employees who make $100.000+ a year salaries. Along with a moratorium on all building construction.

  2. Hear no evil – see no evil – speak no evil – all just need a nice safe spot inside of a cardboard box to climb into for a few hours to relax

  3. in 1994 i have a family member take pima colleges EMT course, total cost $300.00 all fees, no book. Current famliy member cost for taking same EMT course at pima college – $2,200.00. the one required book cost $246.00. Required knit shirt w/ schools logo $34.00. Required Lab book (blank loose paper) $12.00. Knit shirt would cost 7.00 at Taget/ Walmart. Only could buy it in their pima college book store. DONT TELL US TAXPAYERS YOUR NOT RAPING US…. THREE WAYS TO WEDNESDAY.

  4. One of the State Representatives (Thorpe) tried to run a bill that required the universities to publish job opportunities and placements with each degree major offered. Both the House and Senate leadership did Regents & governor’s bidding and killed the bill.

    So it is odd that the BOR would Blame the governor and Legislature for their problems with this litigation. Although they appear to be complicit.

  5. Of course ABOR says they are “surprised” by the AG’s lawsuit.

    If they are being honest, they’d tell you many legislators have met repeatedly face to face with individual ABOR members to tell them tax payers are fed up with the nonsense of course offerings and sky high costs!

    It is quite revealing ABOR says most students get financial aid. That assumption is baked into the universities budgeting/spending. It’s “free” money to them in their decision making.

    Over 300% increase in costs to students in the past decade is unacceptable and not sustainable.

    This is not the first time an education lawsuit has forced conversations in AZ. It’s too hard to do the right thing so ABOR must be forced into it.

    Yes, let’s hear them explain away their budget line items to a judge. I look forward to hearing why UA costs more than ASU. I’d like to know why the salaries for Dept of Diversity are so high. That office didn’t exist 25 years ago. This is the Dept that put out the “thought police” guidelines of what a student is allowed to say and not say. Remember UA prefers students to say “oops and ouch” when they are offended.

    Taxpayers will be on the hook for court fees…but it’s just money, there’s an endless supply to these Ivory Tower types.

    ABOR’s mission to enroll all comers is taking place. But quality matters.

    In 2016, 46% of Americans ages 25-64 had a post secondary degree compared to other countries in the OECD. (Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development) The biggest difference is in the US, many of the degrees don’t translate to employability.

    Perhaps if student loans/financial aid weren’t handed out like Halloween candy to anyone with their hand out, students would think twice about degrees that have limited employment paths.

    The looming student loan bubble will make the housing bubble pale in comparison.

  6. The propaganda continues. The Progressive agenda has been in place now for quite some time, heavily influenced by Marxist ideas, and other big government German philosophers, in early part of the 19th century. Now being enforced by the Fascist arm of the Progressives. They can not have an educated electorate, sheep are much better.

  7. Couldn’t agree more with JDfast, the Universities have morfed into a progressive propaganda provider. Perhaps they should focus on Science, Humanities, Business, Arts and cut down on the social modification being done in Education and Social studies.

    It saddens me to see the detrioation of the quality(usefullness) of courses being offered by the universities in this state.

    It is the regnts fault perpetuating the growth as places to provide employment of otherwise unemployable people with a PHD in what???

    • Eliminate every course that has the word “studies” in its title and eliminate the professors that teach them. Get rid of the diversity bureaucracy and replace it with an ability bureaucracy. Make colleges and universities co-sign for student loans.

      • Be careful with your pronouns

        Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence (ODIEX)
        Diversity Team Structure
        Diversity Community Councils
        Diversity Coordinating Council
        Policies & Statements
        Programs for Inclusive Excellence

        ODIEX Office Staff

        Georgine Speranzo, Administrative Assistant

        she/her/hers pronouns

        Georgine Speranzo has a BA in French from Penn State University and a BA in Linguistics from The University of Arizona. She moved to Tucson from Philadelphia in 1998 and has worked at the University of Arizona for 18 years. Georgine joined the Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence in October 2016.

        Abraham Weil, Graduate Assistant

        he/him/his pronouns

        Abraham Weil is a PhD candidate in the department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona whose research focuses on radical geographies, poststructuralism, continental philosophy, queer and trans-theory. His current project focuses on radical political formations, anti-black racism, and trans* theory. Previously, Abraham earned a Master of Arts from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He currently serves as a Graduate Assistant with the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.

        Tamara Carter, M.S., Graduate Assistant

        she/her/hers pronouns

        Tamara Carter is a PhD student in the Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English Program at the University of Arizona. She graduated with a MS in psychology from the University of Central Missouri, and a BA in psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Before joining the Dean of Students Office at University of Arizona in 2013, Tamara served as a Mental Health Counselor, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and an adjunct instructor at William Woods University (MO). In 2013, she was certified as a Conflict Resolution Mediator by the Office of the Arizona Attorney General: Public Advocacy and Civil Rights Division. Her research Interests include: Rhetorics of Non-Standard Englishes, theories of SRTOL, Ebonics and composition pedagogy, and the dilution effect as a rhetorical tool for reducing negative attitudes toward Non-Standard Englishes. She currently serves as a Graduate Assistant with the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.

        Charlinda Haudley, M.Ed., Program Coordinator Senior

        she/her/hers pronouns; tribal affiliation: Navajo

        Charlinda Haudley is from the Navajo tribe and is currently the Program Coordinator Senior in the Office for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. Prior to this, Charlinda served as the Coordinator for Student and Cultural Engagement at Arizona State University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and a Masters of Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her areas of interest are social justice and intersectionality.

        Laura Hunter, Ph.D., Associate Diversity Officer and Coordinator of Faculty Development

        she/her/hers pronouns

        Laura Hunter earned her PhD in sociology at the University of Arizona and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Notre Dame. Her dissertation research focused on unconscious bias against women in STEM fields. Another line of her research focuses on gender differences in academic careers. For example, she investigated gender differences in the impact of parenthood on publications and citations, which was published in Social Studies of Science. Since returning to the University of Arizona in 2013, Dr. Hunter has worked to better recruit, retain, and support faculty, particularly those from underrepresented groups. For example, she created the Diverse Faculty Career Discussions, a peer-mentoring network of faculty from all ranks and disciplines who gather monthly to discuss a topic related to faculty careers. She also developed a comprehensive set of faculty development workshops, including three series: getting published, advancing faculty careers, and diversity in the classroom.

        Jesús Treviño, Ph.D, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Senior Diversity Officer

        he/him/his pronouns

        Dr. Jesús Treviño joined the University of Arizona in August of 2016. Prior to this, Trevino served as the Associate Vice President for Diversity at the University of South Dakota. Trevino earned both a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in education from UCLA. He also received a master’s degree in language and international business and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Eastern Michigan University. Between 2002 and 2012, Dr. Trevino served as associate provost for multicultural excellence and clinical associate professor in education at the University of Denver. He also served as assistant dean for cultural diversity and director of the Intergroup Relations Center at Arizona State University from 1992 to 2002.

  8. The rules, the constitution doesn’t matter according to Ridnour, the establishment. Only the outcome.

    Read the constitution. It provides a very large funding source. But the ‘environmentalists’ won’t let it be used.

    Unknown to me why anyone would support their children going to public universities anymore.

  9. Same song, same dance, its not our fault, its yours. If you look at the universities, they have tried to become all things to all people and as a result have added course after course of underwater basket weaving to try to satisfy everyone so that they can point with pride and we have whatever you want. That costs millions of dollars and guess what. The BofR don’t do their job and ask why the doctorate in basket weaving is being offered. They just rubber stamp all the courses and degrees and the universities go on their merry way and keep raising tuition to pay for all the BS courses and degrees. SSDD in public education. Pathetic when the taxpayer doesn’t have someone to watch their back, but isn’t that the case in most all government.

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