Coconino Voices: Board will not burden students with tuition hikes

Coconino Voices: Board will not burden students with tuition hikes

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The Arizona Board of Regents has paid close attention to the difficult challenges facing Northern Arizona University in the face of a historic meltdown of fall enrollment, which is occurring across the country due to the coronavirus.

The protests covered in these pages and the human impacts of budget cuts are top of mind for us.

As board chair, let me express the board’s goals as we navigate this turbulence.

First, that we place the students atop our priorities. We should not shift the burden of these budget cuts on them in the form of tuition increases or cuts to financial aid. The burden must be borne by institutional costs.

Second, reductions to payroll should be broad-based and progressively applied. Those who make more should be asked to do more. Let’s keep our NAU community together and intact.

Third, layoffs are a last resort, and to the extent unavoidable, should be as limited as possible. And when applied, done so based upon a student-centered criteria.

Finally, the virus and its impacts are not short-term and our thinking should not be, either. Uncertainties abound. We should seek to minimize the turbulence that is still ahead by designing a glide path all the way through the storm.

The board encourages President Cheng to continue to approach this crisis with these principals top of mind and believe she will.

Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D., to the Arizona Board of Regents in October of 2015. He currently is chair of the board and an ex officio member of the Finance, Capital and Resources Committee, Audit Committee, Academic Affairs and Educational Attainment Committee and the Research and Health Sciences Committee.

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