Vol. 4 No. 33 | Aug. 30, 2007

 

’09 budget request seeks $18.7 million increase

Northern Arizona University President John Haeger submitted a preliminary 2008-09 state operating budget request to the Arizona Board of Regents that seeks an increase of $18.7 million over this year's budget.

The request, which was submitted to ABOR at its Aug. 23-24 meeting in Tucson, includes:

  • $6 million for debt service to build a new health professions complex on the Flagstaff campus
  • $4.8 million to increase the number of graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines
  • $2 million to expand access to baccalaureate programs statewide via higher education centers
  • $1.5 million to create an Initiative for Society, Energy and the Environment that would take a cross-disciplinary approach to energy and sustainability issues

Haeger said NAU's budget request reflects Gov. Janet Napolitano's expectation for the state's universities to fulfill a public agenda.

"We need to get very aggressive in preparing the population of this state for the future," noted Haeger.

Also high on NAU's priorities for next year are faculty and staff salaries and funding for building renewal.

The regents also supported NAU's next step toward expanding health-care programs by approving the university's request to create a different departmental structure in the new College of Health and Human Services.

The regents approved the restructuring of the existing School of Health Professions into four separate departments that will be part of the new college.

The School of Health Professions previously consisted of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, the Department of Health Sciences and the Department of Dental Hygiene. Within the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences were the Physical Therapy program, the Athletic Training program and the Communication Sciences and Disorders program.

As a result of the restructuring, NAU will convert those programs into the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. The structures of the current Department of Health Sciences, the Department of Dental Hygiene and the School of Nursing remain unchanged.

"These changes will enhance the competitiveness of the new College of Health and Human Services and enable the college to respond more quickly to health-care programming needs in Arizona," said Liz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

During the two-day ABOR meeting, Haeger also presented a report as a representative on the State Board of Education on the board's consideration of increasing high school graduation requirements. One option, called a standard diploma, would increase the required math credits from 3 to 4 and the number of science credits from 2 to 3, beginning with the high school freshman class of 2009. Another option, the regents diploma, would include the same number of additional credits but aligns with university admissions requirements in terms of the math, science and language requisite courses.

Haeger said the proposed changes in high school graduation requirements present three issues that need to be addressed. "First, there will be tremendous pressure on universities to produce more teachers in math and sciences. And to change the number of math and science teachers, we have to change significantly the compensation for math and science teachers."

The final issue is deciding whether to offer both a standard and a regents diploma or to only offer the regents diploma to align completely with university entrance requirements.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne expressed concern about not having enough math and science teachers to deal with the 2009 implementation of the proposed changes in graduation requirements.

"The big issue is the teacher shortage. The additional math requirements will necessitate about 300 more teachers," Horne said. He advocated for waiting until 2010 to change the high school graduation requirements. Horne also cautioned that some students may not be able to cope with the higher level of work, which may result in greater numbers of dropouts.

In other action, the regents approved a new three-year contract through 2010 for Laurie Kelly, head coach of women's basketball. The regents also approved NAU's request to upgrade its interactive television system and to purchase and implement a business performance management system that will enhance the budgeting and planning process.

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