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University of Arizona president to get a 10% pay cut after school’s $177M budget shortfall

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — University of Arizona President Robert Robbins is about to get a salary reduction, but he doesn’t have a problem with that. In fact, he asked for it.

Robbins has become a central figure in the school’s financial crisis. The university based in Tucson is trying to dig out of a $177 million budget shortfall that stemmed from a miscalculation of cash reserves.

Arizona Board of Regents Chair-Elect Cecilia Mata announced Monday that regents will take action in an upcoming meeting to reduce Robbins’ base salary by 10% and eliminate other compensation.

In a statement, Mata said Robbins “supports these reductions and the message they send as UArizona comes together to resolve its financial challenges and emerge from this process a stronger and more resilient institution.”

Robbins makes more than $1 million annually with a base salary of about $816,000, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Other compensation comes in the form of retirement funding and a car allowance, and bonuses for performance-based measures.

“I recommended to the Arizona Board of Regents, and it has accepted, that my total compensation be significantly reduced,” Robbins wrote in an email to university employees Monday.

The regents oversee the state’s public university system.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs sent a letter to board members in January, saying the University of Arizona’s financial crisis is rooted in a lack of accountability, transparency and leadership. She urged the board to take action.

In the months since the financial crisis surfaced, the university’s athletics director Dave Heeke was replaced, and Chief Financial Officer Lisa Rulney resigned from the post.

Within the Board of Regents, Chair Fred DuVal stepped down from the leadership role but will remain on the board. The board’s executive director, John Arnold, took a leave of absence while he fills in as chief financial officer at the university.

Mata, who replaced DuVal, said the regents are committed to reining in the university’s finances.

So is Robbins. He has outlined a recovery plan that includes freezing hiring and compensation, reducing financial aid for out-of-state students, ending a guaranteed tuition program for new students starting in fall 2025, raising ticket prices for sporting events and pausing major construction projects.

Robbins also has told reporters that some of the university’s financial troubles are due to unpaid loans the school provided to the athletics department in recent years. Resources were drained ahead of the school’s move next year from the Pacific-12 Conference to the Big 12, Robbins said.

“This happened on my watch,” Robbins told the Arizona Daily Star. “I’m totally responsible for it. And I’m also responsible for getting the plan implemented and solving this problem — and I fully intend to do that.”

Article Topic Follows: AP-National

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