76th Arizona Town Hall
Higher Education in Arizona for the 21st Century
May 21 - 24, 2000


Given the gravity of the situation facing Arizona’s higher education system, many changes are necessary. Arizona is in an educational crisis. Of 100 children who start in the Arizona educational system, only 22 will go on to college and only 6 will obtain a bachelor’s degree. Arizona’s higher education system continues to grapple with many issues in preparing for the 21st century. At the heart of these issues is the basic tension among quality, affordability and accessibility...The educational system is at risk because of a lack of funding, coordination and a sense of urgency from the Governor, the Legislature and the public. Following are just a few of the recommendations from the 76th Arizona Town Hall that looked toward strengthening Arizona’s higher education system for the 21st century.

  • In order to ensure the state is competitive in the New Economy, we must encourage and support research, technology transfer, work force development and entrepreneurial activities at higher education institutions.
  • While it is important to prepare students for future employment and to meet the needs of the New Economy, it is equally important to educate well-rounded, thoughtful individuals...it is critical to integrate a liberal arts education with educating students to participate in the evolving technology-based economy.
  • The three-part public governance system (the Arizona State Board of Education, the State Board of Directors for Community Colleges and the Arizona Board of Regents) is adequate, but should be improved. Town Hall strongly recommends that these existing governing bodies, in collaboration with local governing boards, identify a process by which a well articulated master plan integrates the delivery and funding for education in Arizona. With one voice, this plan should be presented to the public and the legislature for debate.
  • Financial support for education in Arizona should be appropriately balanced between the individual student and the public. Out-of-state tuition at Arizona institutions should reflect at least the full costs of attendance. In-state tuition should remain consistent with the Arizona Constitution and permit maximum accessibility to education.
  • In order to meet student needs, particularly in rural Arizona, the existing institutions of higher education should function in new ways. We should encourage our educational institutions to expand what they do well, but also to collaborate and partner with each other and avoid unnecessary redundancy.
  • The Arizona higher education system must have a funding source that keeps pace with the needs of the system. The current basic state funding model for both public universities and community colleges is an obsolete paradigm that is tied to student enrollment and the academic year. It is incumbent upon policy-makers and leaders in the community, business arena and higher education to develop a new funding policy to substantially increase funding and make Arizona not only competitive but excellent.

In essence, there must be a new commitment to education in Arizona that renews and reenergizes the creative and learning mind toward a new standard of excellence. Such commitment requires more money, more leadership and more moral and spiritual support from the Legislature, the Governor and the people of Arizona.

The 76th Arizona Town Hall was made possible in part by contributions from Arizona Public Service Company and Honeywell.


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