About half of the 14 proposals about how Arizona’s university system should be restructured suggest that Arizona State University West should grow into a research university — regardless of whether or not the campus breaks from ASU.
The proposals, submitted before Aug. 1 to the Arizona Board of Regents, will be reviewed as part of a yearlong study. They offer alternatives to a plan developed by Regent Chris Herstam and the state’s three university presidents.
The Herstam plan calls for creating two new regional universities to deal with enrollment growth, expected to balloon to 170,000 students within 15 years. ASU and the University of Arizona would remain research universities, and Northern Arizona University would become a regional university. The regents on June 3 approved a feasibility study of the plan.
"If we do nothing, we will not have room for families and students to enter our fouryear traditional universities," Herstam said.
Former governors Fife Symington and Raul Castro and former Regent Eddie Basha are also involved.
"I believe that the current regents plan is flawed," Basha said. "Their proposal creates a two-tier system, and I think it’s foolish."
Mary Jo Waits, a staff director hired to oversee the study, said she does not expect the regents-appointed 18-member group to begin evaluating proposals for four to five months while they review other states’ university systems.
Some alternate proposals:
• Create another governorappointed board, similar to the regents, to oversee NAU and ASU West. The regents would maintain authority over ASU and the University of Arizona. Basha and the former governors endorsed this plan.
• Maintain three universities for now. ASU West could become an independent university, and community colleges could offer bachelor’s degrees, according to the Northern Arizona Task Force on Higher Education. The task force includes representatives of NAU, Flagstaff and other northern communities.
• Keep ASU West’s research mission, because losing it could devalue ASU West degrees. Losing the campus’ research mission also could negatively affect minority and older students and delay or damage development in the West Valley, according to the ASU West Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
• Support ASU West in becoming independent from ASU as a research university. Change NAU and ASU to University of Arizona — Flagstaff and University of Arizona — Tempe, according to the Native American Student Organization at ASU West.
• Use the Maricopa Community College District to offer bachelor’s degrees, as proposed by the district.
• Avoid the name Central Arizona University for ASU West — if the campus becomes independent — because it would be too similar to Central Arizona College in Pinal County, according to Westmarc, a coalition of government, education, business and community leaders in western Maricopa County.
• Have freshmen at all three state universities attend community colleges, according to a proposal from former state Rep. John Kromko.
• Refocus NAU’s mission. Instead of attempting to become a research university, NAU should provide smaller classes for undergraduate students, according to a plan from former NAU President Eugene M. Hughes.
Herstam’s proposal creates two groups under the regents: Regional universities and research universities.
The regional group would govern a Southern Arizona University (formerly UA — South and NAU — Yuma), a Central Arizona University (formerly ASU West) and NAU. NAU would become the flagship of that group.