The Arizona Board of Regents on Feb. 7 passed a resolution in support of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's fiscal year 2014 budget request, which calls for $58.6 million in new money for the state's public university enterprise.
Brewer outlined her request to board members during the two-day board meeting on the Arizona State University campus.
"The board applauds the governor’s budget recommendations and its investment in our universities, and we thank the governor for her commitment to higher education," said ABOR Chairman Rick Myers. "The board has directed the university system presidents to support and advocate on behalf of the governor’s budget recommendations for the universities and her Medicaid expansion plan to business leaders, the state Legislature and to the public."
The governor's request includes $8 million for further development of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix. This investment is important as Arizona continues to face a troubling shortage of doctors and medical professionals.
The request also calls for $15.4 million in performance-based funding to reward progress in areas such as degrees awarded and gains in external research. Moving to a performance-based model is a priority for the regents as the universities strive to meet goals intended to support and stimulate Arizona's economy.
Additionally, a proposed allocation of $19.9 million for soft capital would be key to providing advanced equipment and technology to meet academic and infrastructure needs.
Also at the meeting, the regents approved funding for three research projects from the Regents Innovation Fund through fiscal year 2013-14. Three out of 13 proposed projects were selected for funding, for a total of $1.1 million.
- Researchers will identify ways to improve profitability of algae farming, investigate a variety of non-potable water sources and waste streams, and identify target products from algae that will flourish in the waste water streams. The project will support efforts to designate algal culture as agriculture in Arizona, increase commercialization of the product, and promote a sustainable strategy for the reuse of Arizona's waste resources. The regents have allocated $200,000 for this project.
- The second project will support the transition to informatics-intensive research for Arizona's nationally ranked environmental research programs. It will move the Arizona higher education enterprise into a national leadership position in the critical emerging area of environmental information. Research and development will focus on the environmental sciences relating to creation, collection, storage, processing, modeling, interpretation, display and dissemnation of data and information. The regents have allocated $450,000 for this project.
- A third project will build upon the pilot involving SciVal Experts. It will expand the effort in building digital research infrastructure capabilities that will enhance the research functions of Arizona's three universities. The project aims to increase researchers' ability to form creative and dynamic collaborative teams across disciplines and locations, improve their access to funding opportunities, and provide access to a data management infrastructure. The allocation for this project is $450,000.
Also at the meeting:
- The board approved an extended and revised contract for Rich Rodriguez, head UA football coach. The changes extends his contract by one year to Nov. 30, 2017, increases his base salary and makes adjustments to other compensation schedules.
- The regents approved a contract for Anthony Amato, the new UA women's head soccer coach. Amato's contract will run through Dec. 31, 2015, and his base salary will be $80,000, with increases based on team achievements.
- The board appointed Peter Calihan to the University of Arizona Health Network Board of Directors.