TUCSON, Ariz. - University of Arizona President Robert Robbins says in order for the school to get its finances back in order, employees will be laid off.
The Southern Arizona-based public university is grappling with a $240 million miscalculation of its predicted cash on hand, and Robbins told the university's Faculty Senate that there will be employee layoffs in the Athletics Office.
In addition, Robbins announced that season tickets for basketball and football would increase by 25%. General ticket prices would also increase.
According to Robbins, the college's athletics department has taken out loans from the university, to the tune of about $87 million in recent years.
"I am absolutely confident that all of us working together, we're going to – we're not only going to survive, we're going to thrive in this. This university's been here for, you know, almost 150 years. It's going to be here for a lot longer," said Robbins.
Robins says the university is considering separating athletics from the university's financial books.
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The president and board admitted that this was merely a symptom of what they call a much larger disease: the university was spending more than it brought in and it wasn’t spotted until it was too late.
The university will be taking steps to fix it as the board works to ensure it never happens again.
"I promised all of you that I would dig in," Robbins said. "I’ve dug in, and I don’t like everything I’ve discovered."
In November, the university admitted to only having 97 days worth of cash on hand, lower than the 120 days required by the Arizona board of Regents, and much lower than the 156 days it originally forecasted back in June.
Since then, university leaders faced just a handful of weeks to produce a plan restoring cash to required levels: a reported $240 million deficit.
Robbins gave insight on some of the next steps.
"We will implement an immediate hiring freeze. We will freeze international travel. We will place restrictions on purchasing. We will defer nonessential capital projects and we will pause strategic investments," he said.
Additionally, planned salary increases will be delayed.
Tuition guarantee will be eliminated in the fall of 2025 for new students. Merit aid for future non-resident students will also likely be reduced.
As for current students, Robbins promised no need or merit-based aid would be affected. Guaranteed tuition would stay in place for them, too.
Staff retirement benefits won’t be impacted either.
"Today, we intend to take the first steps to turn this ship around at the University of Arizona and to assure our campuses and the public that this will not happen again, in Tucson or any of our state’s universities," Fred DuVal with the board said.
To this end, the board is now requiring all three universities to adopt additional financial practices, including UArizona to have its own specific reporting structure for the next few years.
Robbins says the university will have to take additional steps to solve this problem. The total financial plan is due to the board on Dec. 15.