ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved over $2.4 million in salaries and bonuses for all three presidents of the state’s public universities — making them among the highest paid public employees in the state.

Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow received a pay raise of over $38,500, bringing his base salary to over $809,800, as well as a $90,000 bonus. Crow also receives perks: housing, a vehicle allowance, and retirement contributions. ABOR extended his contract through June 2027. 

Northern Arizona University (NAU) President José Luis Cruz Rivera received the largest pay raise of $61,800, bringing his base salary to $576,800, as well as a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025. 

University of Arizona (UArizona) President Robert Robbins received a pay raise of over $37,700, bringing his base salary to over $792,200. Robbins also received a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025 as well. 

The three presidents’ bonuses were contingent on the achievement of various at-risk goals. 

Crow met all three at-risk goals: a strategy to address educational gaps in the state, a plan for the launch of at least one of the five Future Science and Technology Centers in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and clarifying and documenting the expectations for relationships among ASU’s Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge Enterprises.

For Crow, an additional $150,000 in at-risk compensation goals were proposed for next year, each worth $50,000 if met: design and launch a premium brand for ASU online; develop and launch a plan to move the three core brands of the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the Barrett Honors College into three global brands; and design and launch a new Health Futures Strategy that includes a holistic approach around health sciences and launch preparations for the Public Health Technology School. 

Crow also has five at-risk compensation goals through 2024 worth an additional $160,000. These goals will require Crow to demonstrate increased enrollment and student success in adaptive learning courses by offering over 15 courses, with an increase in overall course completion to over 80 percent; increase enrollment of Arizona students and number of graduates by over 10 percent; complete the design of the Global Futures Library with engagement of over 700 faculty members, as well as merge the three schools of the College of Global Futures; build and document enhanced regional collaboration in research; and demonstrate substantial expansion of ASU Digital Prep to at least 150 in-state schools, predominantly rural and underperforming schools.

Cruz Rivera also had three at-risk goals, which he met: a leadership team for NAU, restructured pricing and financial aid along with marketing and recruiting, and a set of goals and objectives to rebrand NAU.

For the upcoming year, Cruz Rivera has $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals aligned with the rebranding and restructuring efforts at NAU, each worth $45,000. Cruz Rivera must develop and implement a “New NAU System” to encompass in-person, online, and hybrid learning modalities, branch campuses, community college partnerships, and engagement with the state’s K-12 system. Cruz Rivera must also transform NAU Online, as well as increase enrollments and enhance career preparation opportunities.

Through 2024, Cruz Rivera is tasked with $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals, each worth $30,000. Cruz Rivera must expand the number of students from working-class families, increase overall graduation rates, and narrow completion gaps for working-class, first-generation, and minority groups; expand the Allied Health Programs and traditional NAU programs into Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma counties as well as distributed learning centers outside these three counties; and increase NAU profile, visibility, and programs for both Latino and Native American communities throughout the state and nationwide.

Robbins also met his three at-risk goals for this year: a new budget model that reduced college and department overhead costs by at least $10 million, a strategy to raise attainment in southern Arizona, and progress toward creating a Center for Advanced Immunology at the PBC.

In the coming year, Robbins faces $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals: secure at least $200 million in initial funding commitment from the state, local government, or private donors by next June for the Center for Advanced Molecular Immunotherapies; develop a plan to centralize responsibility and balance local authority in the university-wide administrative functional areas of Information Technology and Financial and Business Services by next June; and complete the transition of the UArizona Global Campus as an affiliated partner to its final stage under the full authority and oversight of UArizona by next June. 

Then, Robbins faces $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals through the end of 2024: increasing retention by 85.5 percent; leveraging the Washington office of UArizona to increase federal research funding by 10 percent; progressing toward enhancing student experience and outcomes of the UArizona Global Campus; implementing an Information Technology security governance framework; and coordinating a collaborative relationship with ASU and NAU that raises the research potential of the UArizona College of Medicine Phoenix. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Mom Who Fought For Arizona’s Universal School Choice Named Its Executive Director

Mom Who Fought For Arizona’s Universal School Choice Named Its Executive Director

By Corinne Murdock |

One mother who fought to defend universal school choice in Arizona will serve as its executive director.

On Thursday, Christine Accurso announced that Superintendent-elect Tom Horne asked her to serve as the executive director for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program. Accurso, a beneficiary of the ESA Program, said that she would do everything in her power to protect school choice.

“Families deserve educational choice to help shape and mold the futures of their precious children,” stated Accurso.

Accurso led the Decline to Sign movement, which opposed Save Our Schools Arizona’s (SOSAZ) ballot initiative earlier this year to overturn universal school choice. 

Not only has Accurso been an advocate for expanding school choice, she’s been a watchdog for the movement.

Accurso discovered that SOSAZ far overestimated their signature numbers when they turned in their signature sheets for the ballot initiative. She raised awareness of the signature shortage, urging the secretary of state’s office to expedite verification of the signature count rather than waiting the 20-day period allowed by state law. Several days after Accurso and other parents petitioned the secretary of state’s office, they confirmed that the petition lacked enough signatures. 

Accurso also publicized recent issues with the ESA Program helpline as parents attempted to join the newly-expanded program. The phone line was busy nonstop, and would hang up on parents without the promise of a call back or an option to leave a message. 

School choice was one of the issues that defined the midterm election. Where some Republicans lost in other contested races by thousands of votes or continue to await final ballot batches to determine the winner, Horne prevailed.

Horne managed a victory over Democratic incumbent Kathy Hoffman, earning 50 percent of the vote to Hoffman’s 49 percent — just over 9,300 votes. 

Hoffman conceded on Thursday, shortly before Horne tapped Accurso to lead the ESA Program. 

Horne ran against Critical Race Theory (CRT), ethnic studies, and bilingual rather than immersive education. Horne advocated for in-person learning, standardized testing for graduating seniors, state takeover of failing schools, and full in-state scholarships for those who exceed state testing.

Hoffman ran against school choice expansion and bans on CRT tenets in education. She advocated for reducing class sizes, increasing teacher pay, increasing mental health funds for students, and increasing internet access for students.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

From the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to local school board positions, several conservatives are currently leading or have already won key races on the education front in the 2022 General Election.

As of press time, Republican candidate for SPI Tom Horne had increased his lead in his challenge of incumbent Kathy Hoffman. Horne previously served as SPI from 2003 to 2011, prior to successfully running for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. If the results hold up, Horne says his focus as SPI will be on improving student performance and eradicating Critical Race Theory-based curriculum from Arizona’s public schools.

In the Peoria Unified School District race, Heather Rooks won a hard-fought and challenging race. Her efforts to expose the Social Emotional Learning-based policies and practices in the district eventually led her to request an injunction against an activist parent. As reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Rooks, a mother of four school-aged children, obtained the injunction based on threats from Democrat activist, Josh Gray.

Two other conservative candidates, Amy Carney and Carine Werner, secured seats on the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board. Their victories serve as a powerful repudiation of out-going Governing Board Member Jann-Michael Greenburg. Greenburg was sued by parents who accused him of trying to silence them after they exposed his secret Google Drive dossier on them. As AZ Free News reported in April, that dossier included a trove of political opposition research on parents, who opposed the district’s adoption of Social Emotional Learning and Critical Race Theory.

In the race for Flowing Wells School District Governing Board—an area known for being blue—conservative Brianna Hernandez Hamilton is currently holding on to one of two open spots. A mother of three very young children, Hernandez Hamilton ran with the slogan: “Parents + Teachers = Quality Education.”

Kurt Rohrs, a long-time education activist and frequent contributor to AZ Free News, won a spot on the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. Rohrs, like Horne, focused on improving student performance and eliminating the divisive Critical Race Theory from the district’s curriculum. Many see Rohrs’ presence on the board as an opportunity to restore calm to the district which had become the center of controversy thanks to out-going board member Lindsay Love.

In the race for Dysart Unified School District Governing Board, conservative Dawn Densmore was retained by voters. As current president of the board, Densmore successfully led the fight to end the district’s relationship with the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA). Jennifer Drake also won a seat on the board.

Sandra Christensen is set to win a seat on the Paradise Valley Unified School District Governing Board. Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid are in the lead for spots in Fountain Hills. Paul Carver should take a win in Deer Valley. Jackie Ulmer appears to have been successful in Cave Creek as well as Rachel Walden in Mesa and Chad Thompson in Gilbert. In the Higley Unified School District, conservative Anna Van Hoek also won a seat on the board.

In a tweet from earlier this week, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos summed up what many parents have been feeling over the past few years – left out. In response to the National Education Association’s claim that teachers “know better than anyone” what students need in the classroom, DeVos responded, “You misspelled parents.” 

Lake Havasu Teacher Couple Resign, Fired For Filming Porn in Classroom

Lake Havasu Teacher Couple Resign, Fired For Filming Porn in Classroom

By Corinne Murdock |

A Lake Havasu Unified School District (LHUSD) husband and wife teacher duo became unemployed earlier this month for a porn video filmed in a classroom outside of school hours.

Samantha Peer, who went by the porn alias Khloe Karter, taught eighth grade science at Thunderbolt Middle School. Her husband, Dillon, was a fourth-grade teacher at Nautilus Elementary School. In a “statement” video, Peer blamed low teacher pay for her filming pornography and other explicit content. LHUSD hired Peer in January, paying her a salary over $18,000; the district hired her husband in August on a $31,000 salary.

Peer claimed that she was denied salary increases despite qualifying for them over the course of five years, and her family couldn’t survive on her and her husband’s income alone. Nowhere in the video did she apologize. 

“My children are the most important thing to me, and I’m already spending countless hours outside of my contract time on extra school activities and I don’t think it’s fair that I have to sacrifice my own children’s time because our professional salary did not pay enough,” said Peer. “I created the content at the beginning of the summer in order to earn extra money on the side in order to pay for our basic necessities that our salaries were no longer meeting.”

Peer took on the extra positions in August and September, months after she began her porn side hustle. Peer reported in the video that she advised the yearbook club and STEM club, as well as mentored new teachers. Peer received a $500 stipend for advising the yearbook club and $800 for mentoring the teachers. LHUSD documentation didn’t reflect Peer advising the STEM club.

LHUSD documents also reveal that Peer’s husband, Dillon, received nearly $1,000 in an educator induction grant in mid-August. 

Peer didn’t teach at LHUSD for a consecutive five years. After her fourth year at Thunderbolt Middle School, Peer took a two-year hiatus beginning in 2020 to teach in Houston, Texas. Peer was a science teacher at Dekaney High School at Spring Independent School District.

Peer also claimed that her gym terminated her membership due to harassment from those who’d seen her content. Peer featured her former gym in some of her explicit alias accounts.

“The gym owner chose to terminate my membership although I’d been a member for four years because other juvenile members were harassing me by taking my picture and videotaping me while I was trying to work out,” stated Peer.

Peer hasn’t deleted her explicit social media accounts; she advertises them publicly across both her personal and alias accounts. TikTok did ban her porn alias account earlier this week, but Peer created a new account. Peer also has a public Instagram account for her porn alias featuring her workouts, as well as a Linktree featuring links to her other explicit social media accounts like Reddit as well as a link to her sex toy and lingerie wish list. 

After she was fired, Peer posted a TikTok mocking parents upset by her content. 

“When they judge you for having a spicy account, but it pays more than your vanilla job,” stated Peer.

Her first TikTok video posted October 10 depicts her lip-syncing about how she’s crazy.

“You call me crazy like I didn’t warn you. Yeah, did you think I was just joking? Did you think I was just playing around? No, honey. We’re not well,” mouthed Peer.

In a TikTok lip-sync video posted October 26, Peer stated she would cause problems on purpose for not getting enough attention. This was two days after LHUSD placed Peer on paid administrative leave and probation pending investigation, following a community member filing a complaint about her explicit social media accounts.

“In response to not getting the attention I deserve, I’ve decided I will cause problems on purpose,” mouthed Peer. 

Watch Peer’s video here:

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Student Loan Forgiveness Recipients Likely to Spend On Nonessentials Like Vacations

Student Loan Forgiveness Recipients Likely to Spend On Nonessentials Like Vacations

By Corinne Murdock |

Recipients of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program appear to be wrestling with shoulder angels and devils over how they should spend their relief funds.

According to a recent survey of 1,250 applicants by Intelligent, 75 percent expressed interest in spending on essential items like groceries while 73 percent expressed interest in spending on nonessential items like vacations. 60 percent of these applicants said that student loans had an adverse impact on their life.

66 percent were likely to pay off their rent or mortgage, 65 percent were likely to pay off credit card debt, 62 percent were likely to fund transportation costs, 60 percent were likely to pay off medical care or other debts, and 40 percent were likely to pay for childcare.

Comparatively, 52 percent were likely to buy new clothing and accessories, 46 percent were likely to go on a vacation, 46 percent were likely to eat out, 44 percent were likely to buy a smartphone, 43 percent were likely to invest in the stock market, 42 percent were likely to buy gifts, 36 percent were likely to buy a gaming system, 30 percent were likely to finance their wedding, 28 percent were likely to buy drugs or alcohol, and 27 percent were likely to go gambling. 

Despite 73 percent of respondents saying that they would spend their forgiveness funds on nonessentials, 73 percent also said that doing so would be wrong. 84 percent of male respondents were likely to spend on nonessentials, versus 65 percent of female respondents; 80 percent of male respondents said that doing so would be wrong, versus 67 percent of females. 

Twice as many Democratic applicants as Republicans insisted that these types of expenditures were acceptable. 

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Biden’s student loan forgiveness program earlier this month (Missouri v. Biden). Despite the hold, the Biden administration told reporters that it continues to accept and review applications. 

Biden predicted last Thursday that the order would soon lift, saying that his administration would be mailing checks sometime this week or the next. The funds wouldn’t be mailed in check form, but would be applied directly to their loan balances. 

The president criticized Republicans for fighting the controversial program. 

Nearly 22 million of 40 million eligible borrowers have applied for student loan forgiveness. Over 1.3 million Arizonans at least are eligible for relief. Applications don’t close until the end of next year. 

On Monday, the Biden administration announced reforms to other student loan forgiveness programs, such as relief for those victimized by colleges with false advertising or other forms of fraud. The administration also reformed rules for student loan forgiveness for government and nonprofit workers. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.