Regents approve tuition, commend NAU Pledge

NAU entrance sign

Northern Arizona University’s tuition proposal for 2014-15 received approval, and the Pledge Program earned high praise, during the Arizona Board of Regents meeting Thursday, April 3, in Tucson.

Regent Anne Mariucci pointed to NAU’s Pledge Program, launched in 2008, as a pioneer of new higher education territory that established predictability and affordability for students and families.

A critical component of the Pledge is a funding set-aside in anticipation of increases in the cost of educating each student over eight semesters. NAU President John Haeger said setting tuition and building the university budget is an “interesting exercise” amid unknowns like enrollment numbers and state budget appropriations.

“We make commitments based on expected tuition revenue but we don’t truly know what it will be,” Haeger said. “We have to make those commitments over time and so far we’ve been pretty good at predicting enrollment growth.”

With enrollment increases comes the need for more faculty and staff to educate and support those students, Haeger said. He noted the need to invest in employee salaries to remain competitive with peer institutions and the continuing priority to maintain momentum in innovative education delivery models including Personalized Learning.

As national conversations have swirled for months around college affordability, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer weighed in during her State of the State Address in January, calling for an in-state tuition level freeze. The governor’s Four Cornerstones of Reform 2014 policy agenda further lauded NAU as leading the charge for tuition guarantees at Arizona’s public universities. Arizona State University currently has a tuition commitment that limits annual increases to 3 percent for students over five years of attendance. The University of Arizona will launch a guaranteed tuition program similar to the Pledge this fall.

Board members elected new officers for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Regent Mark Killian will serve as chair, Regent Jay Heiler assumes the role of vice chair and Regent Greg Patterson steps in as secretary on July 1.

The search committee tasked with finding NAU’s next president held an open forum Friday, April 4, in Tucson. The hour-long event brought community leaders from the region’s businesses, Pima Community College and K-12 school districts along with NAU faculty and staff.

The regents next meeting is scheduled for June 5-6 in Flagstaff.