Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein has called on lawmakers and community members to bolster the state’s economy by supporting its universities.
She said the state must increase the number of degrees granted by the state’s three universities by at least 50 percent by the end of the decade to keep up with population growth and the need for an educated workforce.
The Regents’ proposed “Competitiveness Package on Higher Education” will include a request of the governor and state lawmakers in the 2014 legislative session to authorize a $107 million list of critical capital building projects in 2015.
Payson hopes to conclude a deal with Arizona State University to start building a 6,000-student campus here as soon as it can buy a 260-acre parcel from the U.S. Forest Service. Payson’s use of a Separate Legal Entity to package a public-private partnership to build the campus at no cost to the state provides a possible model for meeting the need for a rapid expansion in the number of college degrees granted in Arizona.
Klein said the state’s economy will depend on building up the universities. “It’s critical that we have a Competiveness Package on Higher Education so Arizona’s public universities can successfully take on the important task of helping to reinvent the state’s economy to meet the challenges of a global economy that runs on knowledge and demands college-credentialed workers.”
The package includes a proposal to fund research infrastructure, and $107 million in new dollars for critical university operations for FY 2015.
ABOR has also challenged the state’s three public universities to meet ambitious goals including: Doubling research, from $1 billion today to $2 billion by 2020; increasing production of bachelor’s degrees by 50 percent, to 30,890 by 2020; and strengthening universities’ impact on Arizona.
“Being a problem-solver for the state’s most pressing challenges — making an impact — is an important goal we’ve set for ourselves,” said ABOR Chair Rick Myers. “Our universities are prepared to contribute to action that impact health care, transportation, energy, technology, agriculture and water. We won’t shrink from these challenges.”
“I’m proud of the work our universities have done and continue to do to advance student attainment and pursue critical research and development activities,” said Arizona Representative Jeff Dial, chair of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.