University of Arizona announces financial recovery plan to address its $240M budget shortfall #University #Arizona #announces #financial #recovery #plan #address #240M #budget #shortfall

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The University of Arizona has unveiled an extensive financial recovery plan to address its $240 million budget shortfall.

In a virtual meeting Wednesday night with the Arizona Board of Regents, university President Robert Robbins announced the resignation of the school’s chief financial officer and other steps to address cash flow issues.

“We will implement an immediate hiring freeze,” Robbins said. “We will freeze international travel. We will place restrictions on purchasing. We will defer nonessential capital projects and we will pause strategic investments.”

Lisa Rulney, the UofA’s chief financial officer since April 2019, resigned Wednesday from the job that paid her nearly $500,000 annually.

Rulney and Robbins told the regents last month that the university had just 97 days worth of cash on hand and not the 156 they previously predicted. The school’s senior administrators blamed a failure of their prediction model that caused the multimillion-dollar miscalculation.

Robbins said a “decentralized budgeting allocation process and administrative structure” led to “poor budget controls and ineffective administrative structure and overspending in some of our budget units.”

He said the hiring and compensation freeze will save the university $16 million, the immediate purchasing restrictions will save $5 million and deferring nonessential capital projects should save $9 million.

Regents Chair Fred DuVal said it was the fault of the board — the governing body of the state’s public university system — for not identifying the problem sooner.

“Today we intend to take the first steps to turn the ship around at the University of Arizona and to assure our campuses, and the public, that this will not happen again in Tucson or at any of our state’s universities,” DuVal said.

Regents Executive Director John Arnold will serve as the UofA’s CFO and interim vice president of business affairs for the next few months.

Taking steps to increase financial oversight, the regents asked Robbins to hire outside experts to revamp the university’s budgeting and controls.

Robbins said the school will end its guaranteed tuition program starting in the fall of 2025 for all new students.

The school also will reduce financial aid for out-of-state students but won’t reduce need-based aid for Arizona resident students or merit-based aid for current or accepted students.

The financial recovery plan also impacts the UofA’s athletic department, which will raise ticket prices, maximize media rights contributions and reduce costs through centralizing administration functions, according to Robbins.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that Robbins told a Faculty Senate meeting earlier this month that the school loaned the athletic department $86 million from the university’s funds in recent years.

“Athletics is the most difficult part of the university’s budget. I also believe that athletics is a core part of the University of Arizona and key element to our long-term success,” Robbins said Wednesday night. “I have had many great meetings with the athletic department and we are committed to putting together a multi-year plan to bring their budget into balance.”

#University #Arizona #announces #financial #recovery #plan #address #240M #budget #shortfall

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