NAU Proposed Students Take 12 ‘Diversity’ Credits, Hides Website Following Backlash

NAU Proposed Students Take 12 ‘Diversity’ Credits, Hides Website Following Backlash

By Corinne Murdock |

Northern Arizona University (NAU) students will have to take a 12-credit general studies program focused on diversity. Following initial reports on their plans, NAU hid the DCCC page behind a university login page. (Archived link here). In doing so, they also blocked access to links leading to the DCCC meeting dates, agendas, and minutes; diversity requirements; how individuals could propose a “Diversity Designation” course; and an outline of their curriculum creation and review processes. 

The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved NAU’s new diversity program last October.

It appears that NAU shielded the DCCC website from the public eye after City Journal reported about the new diversity curriculum. A web cache of the page taken on May 14 allows individuals to see the DCCC website, not an NAU login page. City Journal issued their report on May 24, offering an in-depth assessment on how NAU’s aim for the program was to only include critical theory’s definition of diversity.

NAU also removed DCCC’s notes (archived here) from last September that acknowledged how the level of ambition the undertaking demands. Yet, the DCCC projected that it would cause NAU to take the lead on their competition. 

 “The 12 credits of diversity requirements are unprecedented and puts [sic] NAU at the forefront of higher education,” read the notes.

The initiative is the latest from the Diversity Curriculum Committee (DCC) formed by NAU’s Faculty Senate. The committee declared in their proposal that NAU is lacking in diversity requirements. (Archived link here). 

The DCC explained that students will be required to take three credits in each of the following areas: U.S. Ethnic Diversity, Global Diversity, Indigenous Peoples, and Intersectionality. Within those areas, there will be focuses catered to the arts and humanities, scientific literacy and methods, and social and political worlds. 

More won’t just be required of the students; the DCC proposed that NAU hire a director for the new diversity program; increase hires in Ethnic Studies, Applied Indigenous Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies; establish retention mechanisms for faculty engaged in “diversity objectives;” create a faculty learning community focused on diversity; create a faculty professional development program on diversity curriculum; hire a Chief Diversity Officer; ensure course releases or other compensation for female and minority faculty; require faculty to engage in more diversity work and challenges; and establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program within each college in NAU.

NAU plans to initiate a soft launch of their revamped diversity program this fall, with a full launch in fall 2023. 

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

Tuition And Housing Hikes Announced At Arizona’s Three Public Universities

Tuition And Housing Hikes Announced At Arizona’s Three Public Universities

By Terri Jo Neff |

Tuition for the next academic school year is going up at Arizona State University for all students, while tuition hikes at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University will hit mostly new students, according to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR).

On Thursday, the ABOR which oversee the state’s three public universities announced higher tuitions and housing costs for residents and non-residents during the 2022-23 school year. All except the UofA will also be increasing the cost of student meal plans.

“The board recognizes any increase in tuition has an impact on Arizona students and families, but we are pleased that the presidents’ proposals included only modest added costs in 2022-23,” ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson said of the hikes. “The proposals demonstrate the joint commitment of the presidents to prioritize Arizona, access and quality while shielding resident students to the greatest extent possible from extraordinary inflationary cost pressures.”

The ABOR’s announcement means existing and new resident students at ASU will be paying 2.5 percent more than this year’s tuition. That works out to $10,978 for undergrads who are Arizona residents and $12,014 for graduate in-state resident students

ASU students who are not residents of Arizona will experience a 4 percent tuition hike, while the ABOR approved a 5 percent hike for international students at ASU. Online students registered at ASU will also notice a 2 percent increase in the cost of each credit hour.

At the UofA, resident students currently in the Guaranteed Tuition Program will not see tuitions go up, but incoming freshman and undergrads whose tuition is not guaranteed will pay $11,535 per year, a two percent increase. UofA grad students who are residents will pay $12,348, which is also up 2 percent.

Non-resident new students and non-resident existing students who are not in one of UofA’s guarantee tuition program  will see tuition rates jump 5.6 percent.  Different tuition rate increases are being implemented for the UofA’s College of Medicine and College of Veterinary Medicine students.

Meanwhile, incoming freshman and graduate students at NAU will be hit with a 3.5 percent tuition increase to $11,024 and $11,390 respectively. The rate boost applies to resident and non-resident students.

Undergraduate course fees at NAU will also be changing for the 2022-23 year. Meanwhile, international students at NAU will experience the biggest tuition hike among the three universities, with increases of 7.2 to 7.4 percent.

But that is not the only economic impact students at Arizona’s public universities will have to contend with for the 2022-23 school year.  The ABOR has upped its housing costs between 3 and 3.5 percent at all three universities.

Any students seeking to utilize a university’s meal plan will also have to fork over more money during the next school year. In addition, ABOR also boosted some mandatory student fees.

According to the ABOR, a person must be able to prove “continuous physical presence in Arizona for at least 12 months immediately preceding the semester of application” to be eligible for resident tuition.

State Still Below Average For Residents With Degrees While Universities Award Record Number Of Them

State Still Below Average For Residents With Degrees While Universities Award Record Number Of Them

By Terri Jo Neff |

Arizona’s three public universities produced more degrees in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 than in any previous year, but the state continues to lag the national average for the number of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a report issued by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR).

The ABOR’s recent College Completion Report shows graduates at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and University of Arizona earned a combined 47,531 degrees for FY2020. That represents a 29 percent increase over the last five years and includes 33,973 bachelor’s degrees, of which 21,425 were earned by Arizona resident students.

The report also shows all three universities significantly increased bachelor’s degrees in key STEM fields in FY2020, producing a combined 9,295 bachelor’s degrees, a 61.7 percent increase over the last five years. The universities also awarded substantially more bachelor’s degrees in health fields in 2020 – conferring 2,879 degrees, a 46.6 percent increase over the last five years.

At the same time, students earned 6,086 bachelor’s degrees in Business, far exceeding any other field of study. However, the ABOR report shows there was a decline in bachelor’s degrees awarded in Education by Arizona’s three public universities at only 1,586. There were also declines in the Agriculture & Agriculture Operations degree program as well as Foreign Languages & Linguistics program.

However, Architecture & Related Sciences saw an unexpectedly strong increase at a time when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting the job market for the industry is expected to grow only one percent from 2019 to 2029.

Despite the upbeat focus of the ABOR report, U.S. Census records show only 29 percent of Arizonans hold a bachelor’s degree or more, far short of the national average of 35 percent.

In response, the regents are kicking off the “New Economy Initiative” which seeks to raise Arizona’s competitiveness by increasing educational attainment, “leading to increased prosperity for individuals and Arizona.”

The business plan of the ABOR’s $120 million New Economy Initiative is designed, according to the regents’ website, “to enhance Arizona’s competitiveness with strategic investments in areas of strength at our three public universities. This targeted approach to workforce development in high-value industries will yield a positive return on state investment.”

The website shows the funding includes $46 million for ASU to be used in part to design and launch “the largest center for engineering education and research in the United States” and to grow enrollments to more than 25,000. It also seeks to make metro Phoenix “the leading center for engineer talent production in America.”

NAU has been allocated $22 million to “provide talent in high demand fields with an emphasis on health care programs in regional locations, including mental and behavioral health, to address the state’s needs as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Meanwhile, UofA would receive $32 million through the New Economy Initiative to enhance medical professional and researcher training, to enhance capacity for students’ careers in national security, space technology, and planetary defense; and to develop Arizona’s only School of Mining into “a world-class leader in mining for the 21st century.”

Other highlights from the ABOR’s FY2020 College Completion Report include the fact a combined 13,558 graduate degrees were conferred in the same period, which represented a record number of master’s (11,387) and doctoral (2,171) degrees.

The most master’s degrees were in the fields of business management, education, engineering, health professions, and public administration, while the greatest numbers of doctoral degrees were in the fields of education, engineering, health, legal professions, and physical sciences.

Tuition And Housing Hikes Announced At Arizona’s Three Public Universities

AZ Board Of Regents Chair Lauds Higher Ed Budget Bill

By Terri Jo Neff |

Chairman Larry E. Penley of the Arizona Board of Regents has high praise for the investment made by Gov. Doug Ducey and the State Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget passed last week which recognizes the role the state’s three public universities play in Arizona’s economic wellness.

“This spending plan invests in Arizona’s competitiveness by supporting public university instruction, research and development, especially in the key growth sectors of health care, the sciences, biomedicine and engineering,” Penley recently said. “State funding also will assist ongoing efforts by Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona to meet the needs of a growing number of Arizona students.”

The 12 members of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) serve as the governing board for Arizona’s three public universities – Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona. The board is tasked with providing policy guidance for nearly every aspect of the university system, including capital development plans, strategic plans, and legal affairs.

The regents also set policy related to financial and human resource programs; academic and student affairs; public outreach; and the all-important student tuition, fees, and financial aid programs.

The main Higher Education budget bill, SB1825, involved more than just funding appropriations. Among other things, it requires the UA cooperative extension office to establish an Agricultural Workforce Development Program to provide incentives to food-producing agricultural organizations to hire apprentices.

“As Arizona emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, focus shifts toward ensuring our state is ready for the challenges of a New Economy increasingly built on the innovation, adaptability and skills of our workforce,” Penley said.

Another SB1825 provision allows the three state universities to offer pro bono assistance to claimants in the general stream adjudication of water rights if the claimants are small landowners and not represented by counsel.

The legislation also calls for ABOR to administer and implement a Promise Program to provide financial assistance to students in a baccalaureate degree who qualify for in-state student status, graduated from an Arizona high school with a qualifying grade point average, and meet eligibility criteria for the Federal Pell Grant.

“With the state’s initial investment in the board’s Arizona Promise Program scholarship, qualifying low-income Arizona students will have their tuition and fees paid in full to attend the Arizona public university of their choice,” Penley said. “The value of a university degree has never been higher, and this program represents our promise that cost won’t be a barrier to any deserving Arizona student.”

ABOR will take on yet another new responsibility thanks to the budget bill.  On Jan. 1, 2022, the statutory duties of the Commission for Postsecondary Education and the e Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program will be transferred to ABOR.

State law designates the governor and the superintendent of public instruction -currently Kathy Hoffman- as ex-officio ABOR members along with two student regents who serve two-year terms. The other regents serve eight-year terms after being appointed by a governor and confirmed by a majority of the 30-member state senate.

In addition to Penley, the current regents are Fred DuVal, Kathryn Hackett King, Lyndel Manson, Cecilia Mata, Bill Ridenour, Ron Shoopman, and Karrin Taylor Robson. ASU student Nikhil Dave is serving as a student regent until 2022; the second student regent seat is currently vacant, according to the ABOR website.

Next up for the ABOR is a Sept. 9 meeting of the Finance, Capital and Resources Committee as well as the Academic Affairs and Educational Attainment Committee.

Arizona Board Of Regents Agree With Auditor General Finding Of Failure To Provide Adequate Oversight

Arizona Board Of Regents Agree With Auditor General Finding Of Failure To Provide Adequate Oversight

By B. Hamilton |

The Arizona Board of Regents has agreed “with all the findings,” the Auditor General reached in a recent performance audit related to Arizona’s state universities’ failure to consistently follow its guidelines.

The Arizona Board of Regents also agreed that it failed to provide adequate oversight of the universities.

On Thursday, June 3 the Arizona Auditor General released the second in a series of three audit reports on the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) as part of the organization’s mandatory sunset review.

The audit looked at whether ABOR’s guidelines governing university-affiliated organizations, such as university foundations and alumni associations, were consistent with recommended practices and the extent to which the universities complied with these guidelines.

The bottom line, according to the Auditor General: “The universities have not consistently followed ABOR’s guidelines governing university relationships with affiliated organizations, limiting full transparency and accountability for some university resources provided to and the benefits received from these organizations, nor did ABOR regularly receive information on affiliated organization activities.”
The Auditor General’s report includes the following findings:

• ABOR defines affiliated organizations as legally separate nonprofit corporations that hold economic resources and carry out activities primarily in support of the universities; and the State’s 3 universities have established relationships with 19 affiliated organizations, including fundraising foundations, real estate organizations, and alumni associations.

• In fiscal year 2019, the universities’ affiliated organizations made $253.5 million in payments to benefit the universities for various purposes, including donations and scholarships, and the universities paid $102.8 million to their affiliated organizations for various purposes, including service fees, real estate debt service, and expense reimbursements.

• Universities lacked current agreements and complete documentation and disclosure of some transactions with some of their affiliated organizations, limiting their ability to demonstrate the public purpose of university resources provided to these organizations and hold them accountable for providing expected benefits and agreed-upon services.

• ABOR’s affiliated organization guidelines lack some requirements to ensure full transparency and accountability and ABOR has not explicitly overseen universities’ compliance with its guidelines.

• ABOR has not required universities to report information it needs to identify, monitor, and mitigate risks associated with affiliated organization activities such as mismanagement, investment losses, and fraud.

The issues of ABOR have been ongoing. In July of 2019, the Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit against ABOR and Arizona State University (ASU) alleging violations of Arizona’s constitutional gift clause, and in October of 2019, the Arizona Auditor General released an audit that describes similar issues.

The Arizona Attorney General alleged that ABOR and ASU violated Arizona’s constitutional gift clause when they gifted Omni Hotel almost 37 million dollars upfront in discounted property valuations, paying for a parking garage, and paying an additional $19.5 million to build a conference center where ASU was only contracted to use 7 days per year.

The Arizona Attorney General’s records also indicated that ASU valued the property, located at the corner of Mill and University, at $85 per square foot, yet across the street, the Hilton Canopy paid $212 per square feet.

The courts, though, rejected the Attorney Generals’ arguments on the matter.

In the most recent audit, the Arizona Auditor General states that still “Universities have not consistently documented and disclosed some affiliated organization transactions, limiting full transparency and accountability, and ABOR has not explicitly overseen university compliance with its guidelines.”

This is after a response from ABOR in October of 2019, stating that due to the policies being revised in December 2018, they had not had the chance to implement the new policies effectively. Now, with the new audit, ABOR has agreed to implement the recommendations by the Auditor General.

According to the 2019 audit, the Campus Research Corporation (CRC) spent an estimated $38.1 million without written approval due to the UA not being able to demonstrate written approval from the UA president for the CRC’s budget and, instead, relied on the CRC’s Board of Directors to approve its own budget. The CRC also, contrary to the master lease agreements, inappropriately advanced $3.9 million generated at one property to another property, including approximately $1 million that the CRC advanced to the other property in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 instead of paying rent to the UA.

In 2019, ABOR had entered into 3 master lease agreements with the CRC, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization affiliated with UA to operate, manage, and sublease ABOR properties.

The UA also failed to retain records of its public activities related to overseeing ABOR’s master lease agreements with CRC, contrary to public records laws.

ABOR continues to lack comprehensive property information to independently oversee and manage the use of its properties. As of May 2019, ABOR did not maintain a complete list of all property that it owns, although its policy requires the universities to maintain some information on ABOR properties they use. A review of the Arizona county assessors’ and treasurers’ records identified 1,127 parcels in Arizona potentially owned by ABOR and compared this information to property listings the universities provided.

Findings indicate that NAU’s listing did not include a 23-acre parcel listed on the county assessor records as ABOR-owned and included 8 acres of property for which it could not demonstrate ABOR’s ownership; UA’s listing included 255 acres of property ABOR never owned and nearly 83 acres that ABOR had sold; and ASU’s listing was limited to its commercial properties, which is only a portion of ABOR properties ASU uses.

The Auditor General found that “Although the universities have developed processes for mitigating the risk of inaccurate property ownership information, ABOR’s lack of comprehensive property information limits its ability to oversee and manage the use of its properties.”