Hobbs 'exploring' options to dismiss members of Arizona Board of Regents

By Camryn Sanchez
Published: Thursday, February 29, 2024 - 7:05am
Updated: Thursday, February 29, 2024 - 5:04pm

Man sits at table and speaks
Bennett Silvyn/Cronkite News
John Arnold, the executive director of the Arizona Board of Regents, speaks to the board about the financial challenges facing the University of Arizona.

A spokesperson for Gov. Katie Hobbs says she’s exploring whether she has the power to expel members of Arizona Board of Regents, the body that oversees state universities. 

Hobbs has blasted the regents for what she calls their failed oversight of the University of Arizona’s finances. 

The governor is scheduled to meet with university leadership and the regents in person next Wednesday regarding the school’s $177 million budget shortfall. University officials last month unveiled plans to cut department budgets and layoff employees to address the deficit.

In a statement released earlier this week, Hobbs said the regents' handling of the crisis is “heading in the wrong direction,” and accused the board of attacking faculty rather than taking accountability. 

Hobbs said ABOR failed in their oversight role and described University of Arizona leadership as “clueless as to their own finances.”

UA President Rob Robbins said in December that the school had made some difficult decisions to reign in the financial crisis, like implementing a hiring freeze.

He also said he’d accepted the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Lisa Rulney due to the financial crisis that emerged under her leadership. But reporting by the Tucson Agenda revealed that Rulney never left, and instead stayed on under the title “senior advisor for business operations.”

Fred DuVal
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0
Fred DuVal in 2023.

But it’s not Robbins that Hobbs focused most of her criticism on — it’s ABOR Chair Fred DuVal. 

“ABOR has told conflicting stories to me, the press and the public about the purchase of Ashford University,” Hobbs’ statement read, referring to the school’s expensive acquisition of an online school.

DuVal threatened to take legal action against a UA faculty member for questioning his involvement with a private investment company that invests in schools as a potential conflict of interest. 

Hobbs condemned DuVal’s response. 

“Because of Chair Duval and the Board’s actions, university employees are going to lose their jobs. Attacking faculty is not, and never will be, the answer,” she said in the statement.

DuVal did not respond to requests for comment.

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