UArizona President Robert Robbins to take pay cut amid budget crisis

Mar 4, 2024, 12:00 PM | Updated: 2:14 pm

side by side of Robert Robbins and crowds of people....

The new chair for the Arizona Board of Regents said she wants to reduce the salary of the president of University of Arizona. (AP File and University of Arizona photos)

(AP File and University of Arizona photos)

PHOENIX — Shortly after leadership changes were made to the state university’s public governing board, the newly elected chair official announced her intention to reduce the salary of the University of Arizona’s president.

Arizona Board of Regents Chair Elect Cecilia Mata’s announcement, supported by President Robert Robbins, follows a recent financial crisis, including a $177 million deficit.

The university said the deficit was primarily caused by increased spending to improve student experience and millions spent on “compensation to retain and attract world-class faculty and staff.”

“ABOR is committed to the University of Arizona recovering its financial health. Based on President Robert Robbins’ request, at its upcoming meeting, the board will schedule an action to reduce President Robbins’ base salary by 10% and eliminate his individual at-risk and multi-year performance compensation,” Mata said in a statement on Monday.

“President Robbins supports these reductions and the message they send as UArizonans come together to resolve its financial challenges and emerge from this process a stronger and more resilient institution.”

What sparked the recent change in ABOR leadership?

The announcement — part of a plan to get the university out of a deficit without raising tuition — came less than a week after changes were made in board leadership.

Fred DuVal stepped down as chair of the board, allowing for Mata to take his place. DuVal will remain a member until his term is over in January 2026.

In his departure, DuVal said stakeholders need to pull back in the intensity regarding controversies at the university.

“It’s imperative that we move away from the heart of rhetoric and politics and refocus on addressing the genuine challenges facing our institution. By resigning as board chair, I want to do my part to create space for collaborative efforts toward real solutions,” DuVal said in a press release last week.

“I have full confidence in Chair Elect Mata’s capabilities to lead effectively in this role. Personally, this transition allows me to dedicate more time to serving the University of Arizona during my remaining two years on the board.”

DuVal’s resignation comes after he made a personal statement at a Feb. 22 ABOR meeting defending himself following accusations made by the university’s Faculty Senate Chair Leila Hudson and a board member slammed UArizona’s Faculty Senate.

The former chair called Hudson’s comments defamatory, adding that he had retained legal counsel and would pursue legal remedies on the matter.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs disagreed with the board’s handling of the issue, demanding a meeting with ABOR leadership and President Robbins to discuss what would happen next.

Who else left ABOR leadership?

Mata also said ABOR executive director John Arnold, who also serves as interim chief financial officer for the university, will take a leave of absence to focus on UArizona’s financial stability.

Subject to board approval, Chad Sampson, the vice president of academic affairs and institutional analysis at ABOR, will assume the role of interim executive director of the board.

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UArizona President Robert Robbins to take pay cut amid budget crisis