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University of Arizona reduces projected deficit from $162 million to $52 million

Posted at 10:08 AM, Apr 18, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The University of Arizona's projected budget deficit for fiscal year 2025 has been reduced from $162 million to $52 million, detailed in an initial budget draft for Fiscal Year 2025.

Interim CFO John Arnold presented the budget to the Arizona Board of Regents Thursday during their meeting on the UArizona campus. The deficit reduction was first announced in an online post by UA President Robert C. Robbins.

"This anticipated improvement of $110 million in the University’s deficit is preliminary, but marks considerable progress in the implementation of our financial action plan," Robbins said in the post. "This is the result of concerted efforts by deans and leaders across the University who worked diligently on their budget plans to address spending trends and to significantly reduce the deficit."

More than half of the money accounted for going toward the deficit, $71 million, is projected to come from budget reductions.

Admin & Provost costs lead the way, projected to see $30.1 million in cuts (6.3%). The president’s office alone will slash nearly $5 million in spending, a 28% cut.

“Yeah, they’re taking the biggest cut on campus, and it’s not even close,” Arnold said during his presentation Thursday.

“This is incredible work in a short amount of time,” Robbins remarked during the meeting. And there’s more work to do.”

Senate Faculty Chair and UArizona professor Leila Hudson, however, wants to see more transparency and exact numbers.

The university’s colleges are due a $26.1 million (3.6%) cut next fiscal year. Specific college budgets will be released next week

Professors say academics have already been feeling the pain, losing money and people, and now they’re set to lose more.

English professor Lee Medovoi disputed the idea that academics has overspent, saying his department has a lower budget and less staffing than a decade ago.

“Our entire college has faced these cuts: anthropology, history, sociology,” he said. “All smaller. Nobody’s hiring. Did the money go to another college? No college is growing as fast as we are shrinking… Let’s cut the sectors that don’t actually educate anybody and don’t actually produce knowledge.”

“All of us at the University of Arizona are watching some of our most talented colleagues depart the university — that they love and want to stay at — for early retirement or for other institutions that are better able to respect the work that they do,” said Hudson, who is expecting more layoffs and non-renewals in the coming months.

There’s also concern on campus about how representative UArizona’s new presidential search committee is. It’s made up of regents, professors, as well as university and community leaders, but only one, undergrad student.

Graduate student and Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) President Jeremy Bernick sent the following statement to KGUN:

“As the elected graduate student leader at the University of Arizona, representing 10,000 students, I am extremely disappointed by the Board of Regents selections for the Presidential Search Committee to replace President Robbins. The Board failed to appoint a single graduate student. Instead of working with student leadership, the Board appointed only one undergraduate student, who will graduate in two weeks, and whose formal affiliation with the university will cease. As an elected student leader, I continue to express my deep frustration and systemic lack of trust for both the current University of Arizona leadership and the Board of Regents.”

Hudson believes too many members of the committee are “loyalists” with close ties to Robbins, the outgoing president.

The search committee met for the first time this week in Tucson.

"As a result of our budget decisions, the University will be in a position to allocate sufficient funds to ensure no college starts FY 2025 in a budget deficit," Robbins said in his post.

Robbins said the University will continue to "refine" the 2025 budget framework and will "incorporate the external financial and operational review of Athletics and the University of Arizona Global Campus – along with updated revenue forecasts and the state’s decisions on allocations to universities – when that information is available."