KUAT wins the Crystal Award of Excellence

Janis Leibold
Jan. 28, 1999

Campus housing for graduate students and a new central faculty office building could be among the next structures to rise at the University of Arizona in the near future.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved initial research on the new buildings at their meeting on Jan. 21. The regents also used the occasion to fire a salvo of criticisms at the Arizona Legislature.

The regents last Friday allowed the UA to begin exploring whether to build residential space on campus for as many as 325 graduate students and possibly older undergraduates. Initially, the complex, targeted for the area west of Coronado Hall, would be used to alleviate the demand for undergraduate students until two new residence halls are built specifically for them.

Pending approval, construction of the graduate housing facility would begin in the spring of 2001 and be completed in the summer of 2002. It would in part replace the aging Christopher City facility near Columbus and Fort Lowell that the UA bought in 1966 for married student housing. UA President Peter Likins said the need for married graduate student housing would still need to be addressed.

Regents President George "Hank" Amos III criticized the UA on the estimated $25 million price tag for the project, and said the University could get "more bang for the buck" by buying local apartment buildings.

Amos was the only dissenting vote on the item. The dilemma for the UA is that even if nearby apartments were for sale, neighborhoods have ferociously opposed the UA crossing over its existing planning boundaries.

Joel Valdez, the UA vice president for business affairs, agreed with Amos that the price tag was high. But Valdez said the University needed the flexibility to examine its options and needed the approval of the regents to proceed.

Residence Life Director James VanArsdel said undergraduates would benefit from the new facility not only because they would initially occupy it, but also from exposure to a diverse graduate student population living on campus, many of who come from other countries.

The regents also approved research on a 21,500 square-foot faculty office building for the central campus. The facility would house as many as 50 faculty members and provide better student access to programs.

Also in the works is an addition to the Chemistry Building. Regents approved an increase in the budget to plan the addition, which would go on the south side of the structure. Chemistry was built in 1936 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The regents also criticized the Legislature for fielding a raft of bills this session they said were not all in the best interest of the three state universities. Amos blamed the lawmakers for current ills at the schools, including a backlog of repairs and renovations, inadequate salaries and faculty flight to other schools, and said the body was "unwilling to make an investment in higher education."

Regent Don Ulrich, a legislative aide during the former Gov. Fife Symington administration, called the Legislature "aggravating," sending bills to the Governor's office that are frequently overloaded with personal "pork."

Outgoing Regent Judy Gignac said legislators are increasingly poaching on decisions the law clearly designates to ABOR, and called legislators "micro-management addicts," which she attributed to the two-year cycle they now use to set budgets.

In other business, the regents:

  • set dates for the tuition-setting process for the 2000-2001 academic year. University presidents will propose tuition levels on March 20, followed by a public hearing on March 30, one week prior to the April 6-7 regents meeting when tuition and fees will be determined

  • approved the UA to replace aging chiller plants on campus with more energy efficient chillers and gas-powered turbines
  • listened to a brief report on public-private partnerships
  • approved a UA College of Agriculture request for an Agricultural Research Complex that would allow researchers to study the effect of heat and other stresses on dairy cattle

The next regents meeting is scheduled for Feb. 24 and 25, at the University of Arizona. The agenda will be posted Wednesday, Feb. 16. For more information, go to the Arizona Board of Regnets web site @ www.abor.asu.edu.


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