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.
“The debate debacle continues this morning,” the TV anchor said, laughing. “The never-ending story of Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs choosing not to debate her opponent, Kari Lake.”
That’s what Arizona voters heard last week as they woke up and turned on one of Phoenix’s most popular morning news programs. They’ve been hearing it for months.
Hobbs’ refusal to debate Lake, the Republican nominee, has become the defining story of the gubernatorial race, one that started out as a 20-year precedent-breaking decision and has morphed a larger-than-life narrative about the Democrat’s political judgment and skittishness, with multiple left-leaning media outlets, from MSNBC and The View to the Arizona Republic and the New York Times, all asking the same question: What in the world is she thinking?
Hobbs claims it’s because her opponent is too far to the right. In reality, her national headline-making stage fright has been going on for much longer than the general election.
It began in April when Hobbs declined to participate in a June 30th debate with her Democratic primary opponent Marco López, the former mayor of Nogales and chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection under President Barack Obama. With one exception, Hobbs was the only statewide candidate in Arizona who declined. López used light political pressure hoping to change her mind — he’d often ask the crowd: “¿Dónde está Katie?” — but, when approached by the local press in May, Hobbs’ campaign claimed that she had (conveniently) scheduled “multiple events in Tucson” on June 30th and couldn’t make the two-hour drive back to Phoenix.
López understood. So, he wrote a letter to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, the government body that organized the debate, granting it permission to “reschedule the debate to a time and date that fits into the Secretary’s busy schedule” over the next 40-plus days. Hobbs declined to reschedule.
When June 30th arrived, a local reporter reached out to Hobbs for comment on her absence. She must have been pretty busy that day, what with “multiple events in Tucson.” But why were no photographs posted online? Oh, about those events, her campaign responded … um, they were canceled. The candidate had come down with a (convenient) case of COVID.
Three days later, Hobbs was spotted, mask-less, waving a flag at a crowded parade in Flagstaff. A superb immune system, indeed.
It wasn’t long after the general election began that Hobbs announced she would not be debating Lake, either. Instead, the Democrat demanded separate one-on-one TV interviews — but that’s not how the Clean Elections process works. Candidates who bow out are not rewarded for doing so. Hobbs insisted that Lake would create a spectacle if the debate format were not right, so the Commission held a formal meeting to appease her, during which its chairman asked her campaign manager point-blank: “Is there any scenario where Ms. Hobbs will share the stage with Ms. Lake in a debate?”
She dismissed his “hypothetical” question and refused to offer an alternate format, and the Commission ruled that the October 12th debate would go on with or without the Democrat in attendance. (Lake said that her opponent was free to change her mind at any time.)
The morning of October 12th, Hobbs joined MSNBC for a softball segment … a little too soft. Because Hobbs got a little too comfortable and accidentally blabbed to the host, as if in the middle of a private conversation, that “PBS is also giving me the same format that Kari Lake has.”
Oops. That secret arrangement wasn’t supposed to come out until after Lake’s interview that evening.
You see, Arizona PBS is the Commission’s official broadcast partner, a relationship that provides the station with unique access to high-profile debates in exchange for complying with the Commission’s rulings when candidates disagree. It turned out that Arizona PBS had struck a side-deal with the Hobbs campaign to shoot and air the one-on-one interview she’d been begging for, right as voters received their early ballots.
The Commission had no clue that the station violated its agreement — and wouldn’t have until it was too late, had Hobbs not accidentally revealed it on live TV. The Commission was forced to cancel the long-planned debate with hours to spare in order to find a new broadcast partner it could trust. In response, Lake held a press conference condemning Arizona PBS’ “backroom deal” with Hobbs, which a source informed her was made at the behest of Michael Crow, the politically connected and contentious president of Arizona State University. (ASU owns and operates Arizona PBS.)
Approached for comment the next morning, Crow denied directing the backroom deal with Hobbs but acknowledged that “he let his preference be known” to the station (which I am certain Arizona PBS interpreted in the exact way that Crow meant it). The Commission’s executive director described himself as “bewildered” by Crow’s political meddling — casting him as “the most powerful man in Arizona” other than the governor — and decried the appearance that “ASU was playing favorites with the candidates.”
Much like Crow, Mi-Ai Parrish, a managing director at ASU who helps oversee Arizona PBS, also “wouldn’t say who made the call to invite” the Democrat. Hobbs herself is similarly claiming now that “I wasn’t involved in those conversations” with ASU — which, again, is a strange series of denials coming from several people who insist they did the right thing.
A Republican state legislator has already announced plans to file a bill that will strip the state’s ties to Arizona PBS as a result of it circumventing the Clean Elections ruling. And, unfortunately for ASU, it doesn’t appear that Hobbs will be in a position to veto it.
Outside of vomiting on herself on-stage, I cannot fathom a single humiliation Hobbs could have endured in a 30-minute debate that would have been worse than the six-month headache of negative headlines her refusal has caused. Two separate polls released this month reflect that reality, finding that the Republican nominee enjoys a 3-point lead heading into Election Day, with even CNN’s Dana Bash acknowledging Monday that “the fact that [Hobbs] won’t debate has given Kari Lake a very wide opening.”
At the end of the day, Arizonans vote for who shows up — and, so far, Katie Hobbs hasn’t.
Brian Anderson is founder of the Saguaro Group, an Arizona-based political research firm.
Arizona State University (ASU) planned to launch American University Kyiv (AUK) next month, a private Ukrainian university offering both bachelor’s and master’s degrees comprised from ASU curriculum.
American University Kyiv Founding Rector Roman Sheremeta claimed to ABC15 that he miraculously avoided Russia’s invasion by one day, not knowing he avoided their breach by a mere 24 hours. Sheremeta — a Ukrainian native who resided in Cleveland, Ohio until AUK development — added that the remainder of his family living in Ukraine were safe.
In a response to ABC15, Sheremeta criticized the U.S. for not taking a more active approach to thwarting Russia’s advances.
“This is not the end of the story, and the west has been very inactive in terms of their responses,” said Sheremeta. “They didn’t believe this would happen in the 21st century, and Putin will go as far as the west allows him to do.”
AUK was a product of Cintana Alliance, an initiative launched by ASU President Michael Crow and education magnate Doug Becker: founder of an expansive private equity firm, Sterling Partners; founder and prior chairman and CEO of the largest education company globally, Laureate Education; and prior chairman and CEO of the largest K-12 tutoring company in the U.S., Sylvan Learning Systems. Becker also has membership within the John Hopkins Medicine Board of Trustees and chairs the International Youth Foundation (IYF) Board.
Becker’s business ventures have deep, controversial ties with the Clintons. Former President Bill Clinton held the position of Honorary Chancellor of Laureate Education, receiving about $18 million in compensation: something that stirred up controversy during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. Hillary’s trove of emails off her server revealed that, after she was newly appointed as secretary of state in 2009, she insisted that Becker be invited to a private State Department dinner on higher-education policy due to his long-standing support for her and Bill. The Clinton Foundation reportedly received millions from Laureate Education, partnering with them for global initiatives for several years. Over the next few years following that state department dinner, Bill would be appointed honorary chancellor at Becker’s company, Hillary announced Laureate Education would be part of the State Department Global Partnership, and the State Department gave IYF over $25 million.
Also involved in AUK’s development was the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) Ambassador Kurt Volker, as Arizona Daily Independent reported. Considering former President Donald Trump underwent impeachment hearings over his investigation into President Joe Biden and Hunter Biden’sUkrainian and Chinese business dealings — confirmed and memorialized in breaking investigative reporting by New York Post as “Hunter Biden’s laptop” — Volker’s role as special envoy to Ukraine at the time spurred controversy. The negative press prompted Volker to step down from his roles within the Trump Administration and as the McCain Institute Executive Director.
Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow faced questioning from State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) concerning the root of some of the university’s controversies that made national headlines. However, it wasn’t Crow’s fate to face Hoffman’s inquisition alone — he found an intercessor in Chairwoman Regina Cobb (R-Kingman).
Hoffman posed questions during Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee meeting relevant to ASU’s funding. The legislator’s first question pertained to the cancellation of a fundraiser for a conservative program at ASU: the Political History and Leadership (PHL) program.
As AZ Free News reported last week, ASU’s initial response to the event cancellation was murky. Out of the three reasons given to various individuals involved in the situation, Crow asserted that an unnamed staff member’s failure to follow planning policy was the reason for the event cancellation, which he insisted was really a postponement. At the time, ASU spokesman Jerry Gonzalez concurred with that statement.
“The event at the Desert Botanical Garden was canceled due to a breach of scheduling protocol by a faculty member in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies,” stated Gonzalez. “The university welcomes the opportunity for this event to be rescheduled following the required protocols.”
However, several of the scheduled speakers for the event were informed by ASU officials prior to publication of our report that the event was canceled due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Those speakers were informed that Crow wasn’t aware of the event or its cancellation at the time. Others reported that the choice of speakers was deemed too controversial: Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and former Utah congressman and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz.
Hoffman addressed this most recent controversy first in his line of questioning for Crow. The representative’s question flowed seamlessly with Crow’s closing request: that the legislature afford more funding for ASU’s “Freedom School”: the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership (SCETL). Hoffman applauded SCETL, but asked about the treatment of the PHL program.
“I’m wondering how you feel about the political history and leadership program that you canceled the event on?” asked Hoffman. “How come that doesn’t get the same level of praise considering its disproportionate impact on the department?”
Crow responded that the event was delayed, not canceled, and blamed an unnamed faculty member for not following proper schedule procedures, which he didn’t elaborate. He promised that the event was rescheduled.
“This is an event I’m very familiar with. We’re very happy to host that event, we’re very happy to host all of the individuals that are coming to the event,” said Crow.
When Hoffman attempted to follow up with another question, Cobb said Hoffman’s line of questioning wasn’t appropriate for the subject.
“That’s a question that shouldn’t have been asked, so don’t do a follow-up on that one,” said Cobb.
Hoffman responded that they could discuss the subject later and insisted he wasn’t done.
“Well, you’re only addressed to when I addressed you,” said Cobb.
“Which you have already authorized,” responded Hoffman.
“I said ‘Don’t follow up,’ and you said, ‘Okay, then.’ Do you want a different question, Mr. Hoffman?” asked Cobb.
“I want less hostility from my chairman. That’s what I’d like,” responded Hoffman.
Cobb repeated whether Hoffman would like to ask a different question, and Hoffman confirmed. Hoffman then asked what Crow was doing about the multiple incidences of high-profile racism on his campus.
“Unfortunately the racism that we’re seeing is permeating from a cultural and institutional level[,]” asserted Hoffman.
Before Crow could respond, Cobb intervened with an assertion that Hoffman’s question wasn’t relevant to their budget material being reviewed that day. Cobb would only interrupt Hoffman as he attempted to ask her if or when the committee would bring Crow back for questioning on the subject of additional funding.
“Are you going to have him back to testify in front of us so we can ask him that question? Because if you expect us to sign off on more funding for ASU…” said Hoffman.
Cobb ignored Hoffman and called on State Representative Lorenzo Sierra (D-Avondale), who lavished praise on Crow for his work. When Sierra said to Crow that he only had one question for him, Cobb chimed in to say, “Thank God,” and chuckled to herself. At that point, a soft, inaudible exchange occurred between Cobb and an unknown male as Sierra continued to address Crow. It is unclear whether that exchange was related to Cobb’s next response; after Sierra finished asking Crow about what work ASU was doing with the state’s economic agencies, Cobb chimed in again to accuse legislators of grandstanding.
“Again, that’s off the subject. I really want to stick to the appropriations. We got a lot of people here to speak today, we can grandstand all we want to —” said Cobb.
Hoffman interrupted Cobb to call a point of order.
“This is not grandstanding from Sierra or myself. These are things that will impact how we vote on funding for this man’s school,” insisted Hoffman.
Cobb seemed to agree.
“And what we’re talking about is the funding right here, okay…” said Cobb.
“Correct. And he’s standing in front of us and we have material questions for Arizona State,” responded Hoffman.
Cobb disagreed. She insisted that she determined neither Sierra or Hoffman’s questions were relevant to the task at hand, but refused to elaborate why. Hoffman insinuated that there was no point to the committee’s presence, if what Cobb said was true.
“So this is just a dog and pony show?” asked Hoffman.
“No, this is to let us know what their initiatives are this year. That’s what they’re here to do, is to let us know what their education initiatives are coming forward to this year,” said Cobb.
When Hoffman attempted to insist that Crow should answer to “substantive questions, like issues of racism on campus,” Cobb threatened him with removal from the committee if he didn’t stand down.
It appeared that Cobb’s refusal to allow any substantive questions caused the remainder of the committee to dare not pose any questions of their own. Several questions from State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) were permitted prior to Cobb shutting down the subject: Kavanagh asked about foreign enrollment and online learning trends.
In a statement to AZ Free News, Hoffman expressed disappointment that Crow didn’t step up and answer for the controversies plaguing ASU.
“Michael Crow’s refusal to answer for the extremely concerning allegations of institutionalized racism, viewpoint discrimination by professors, and rampant wokeism at Arizona State University during yesterday’s House Appropriations Committee is yet another glaring example of his utter disdain for any level of transparency, oversight and accountability,” stated Hoffman. “Under his watch, racism and wokeism by professors and staff has led to an increase in high profile incidents of discrimination on campus, yet when questioned during his testimony in front of the state’s top appropriators he chose to hide behind Ms. Cobb, the committee chairwoman. Mr. Crow’s appalling behavior has given legislators merely one more in a long line of reasons to oppose any new funding for his university.”
Arizona State University (ASU) decided to cancel a prominent conservative program’s first annual fundraiser scheduled for next month, and there are conflicting explanations behind their decision. The event was arranged to honor prominent community leaders Dan and Carleen Brophy; 100 percent of the event proceeds were to go to the program.
Three different reasons for the event’s cancellation were given to different parties involved in the event. The first two related to technicalities: the uptick in COVID-19 cases, and one unnamed faculty member’s failure to follow ASU rules. The third had to do with a more contentious topic: the featured speakers.
ASU’s decision means that the program, Political History and Leadership (PHL), may not obtain funds it anticipated from the event, which was to take place at the Desert Botanical Garden. Each guest would have paid $250 for attendance, and tables of eight would’ve pulled in $2,000. The PHL Program is part of the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies.
AZ Free News learned that ASU informed several of the featured speakers that the event was canceled due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
Scientists hypothesize that COVID-19 likely functions as a seasonal disease. Last year, the case counts for February were nominal after the holiday spike.
AZ Free News also learned that ASU President Michael Crow wasn’t aware of the event or its cancellation, and that ASU would reschedule. However, emails obtained by AZ Free News indicated that the ASU administration was responsible for canceling the event.
ASU spokesman Jerry Gonzalez told AZ Free News a slightly different story. Gonzalez said that a faculty member broke the university’s scheduling protocol. When we asked which protocol was broken, ASU said it didn’t have any more information to provide.
“The event at the Desert Botanical Garden was canceled due to a breach of scheduling protocol by a faculty member in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies,” said Gonzalez. “The university welcomes the opportunity for this event to be rescheduled following the required protocols.”
AZ Free News also inquired of the ASU Foundation, which was in charge of receiving the program funds earned from the event and approving any event planning. They didn’t respond to any of our emails.
A third potential reason surrounding the event cancellation had nothing to do with logistics. Some reported that they were informed that the event was canceled due to controversy over the choice of guest speakers: Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and former Utah congressman and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz.
In a press release, Arizona Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi derided ASU based on the claim that they canceled the fundraiser over Biggs and Chaffetz.
“It is outrageous that Michael Crow and ASU would cancel an ASU Foundation Fundraiser because they oppose the views and philosophy of the featured speakers attending the event. It is becoming clear that woke cancel culture has taken over every office at the University,” said Mussi. “ASU doesn’t have a problem with liberal activists and public officials appearing at the school for various events. It is well known that Democrat politicians, including US Senator Kyrsten Sinema, have in the past or currently work for the University at taxpayer expense. It only becomes a problem when the speaker is a conservative. If Michael Crow is going to surrender to the ‘cancel culture’ mob, then he is no longer fit to be ASU President and should resign.”
Those registered for the PHL event will receive full refunds.