Financial Sustainability Emergency Response Taskforce

Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated 1:00 am MST, May 27, 2020

Table of Contents

Main FAQs

Capital Projects, Debt, & Investments

Intercollegiate Athletics

New Opportunities

Operational Efficiencies

Strategic Plan Investments

Students

Workforce

Visit the Main
Financial Sustainability
Emergency Response Taskforce
webpage

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Main FAQs

Can I see the presentation shared during my College/Division's Town Hall?

UArizona staff and faculty are welcome to review the presentation, the infographic on tuition, and other resources related to the efforts of the Taskforce through a Box Folder. You will need your NetID in order to access the materials, which are updated regularly as new information becomes available. 

Can I get involved?

Your involvement is welcomed and encouraged! Visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.

Capital Projects, Debt, & Investments

What are the Capital Projects, Debt, & Investments Workgroup's guiding principles?

First, to preserve the University’s cash-on-hand in order to mitigate unplanned COVID-19 impacts. Second, the Workgroup evaluates opportunities to reduce costs or delay expenditure from capital projects, debt, and investments.

What is the Workgroup’s scope?

The Workgroup considers capital projects including renovations and new construction, university debt, and investment opportunities.

Who are the members of the Capital Projects, Debt, & Investments Workgroup?

Workgroup membership can be found on the main Financial Sustainability Emergency Response Taskforce webpage.

Workgroup members were selected to help represent the broad spectrum of the UArizona community and its functions. It is expected that participants serve both as thought leaders and conduits, bringing information to and from the Workgroup, so that recommendations derive not only the Workgroup members’ expertise but the expertise of the entire community.

How do we develop recommendations?

In addition to our internal discussions, our group receives recommendations and ideas from the UArizona community. We review each recommendation and triage ideas for further consideration and development.  Members of the Workgroup: 1) collect data, including input from key users and stakeholders where appropriate and feasible, 2) conduct appropriate analyses, 3) make recommendations to key leaders, and 4) initiate actions when appropriate.

Is there input from outside the Workgroup?

Yes. When considering recommendations, Capital Projects, Debt, & Investments routinely solicits information from principal clients of the capital project as well as Deans, senior leadership, and even the President. This input is an important piece of the decision-making process.

Do Capital Projects, Debt, & Investments recommendations lead to permanent policy?

No. As COVID impacts are rapidly changing, capital project recommendations have remained flexible.

Why is there still construction on campus?

Capital Projects, Debt, & Investments recommended letting projects under construction continue because the cost of a “stop work” order may result in higher additional costs. This is reviewed on a case by case basis.

How are capital projects funded?

Capital projects are funded through a variety of sources, including gifts, state funding, issuing of municipal bonds, department or college funds, and/or the University’s current cash balance and strategic investment funds. The sources of funding may impact the cash requirements of the project.

What is debt service?

For some capital projects, the university sells municipal bonds to raise revenue to fund the project. Over time, the university repays the principal of the bonds plus interest payments, like a mortgage on a house. The cash needed to cover these repayment obligations is known as debt service. The current financial climate makes it more expensive for the university to raise funds through municipal bonds, thereby increasing the costs to some projects.

What are financial investments?

A wide variety of financial product investments offer the university the opportunity to grow its financial resources over the long run. Managing financial investments allows the university opportunities to maximize its return on equity options and to further diversify investment incomes in order to make the best use of its funds.

What are endowments and expendables?

Endowments include a variety of gifts and funds that the university invests to grow over the long term. Through this growth, endowments also provide a stream of income, known as expendables, to support day-to-day operations and programs, including student support, research, or athletics. In some cases, expendables can also be re-invested back into the endowment to generate additional income, while still honoring the donor’s intention for the funds. Decisions about how expendables are spent or invested can be an important source of savings and income generation.

Can I get involved?

Your involvement is welcomed and encouraged! Visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.

Intercollegiate Athletics

COMING SOON!

Can I get involved?

Your involvement is welcomed and encouraged! Visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.

New Opportunities

COMING SOON!

Can I get involved?

Your involvement is welcomed and encouraged! Visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.

Operational Efficiencies

What is Operational Efficiencies purpose and scope?

The Operational Efficiencies Workgroup is charged with rethinking UArizona’s current operational model with the goals of increasing cost efficiency while keeping in mind the need for ensuring of improving our overall academic quality and increasing the value of higher education.

We actively consider both short-term and long-term operational changes that may improve the University’s overall cost efficiency, such as introducing smart design in organizational alignment, leveraging third party partners, identifying dispersed spending across units for similar purposes, and recommending responses to immediate issues, such as financial holds, and cash flow savings. 

The Workgroup is charged with leading a multi-pronged effort, based on timing of action:

  • Immediate action 
  • Action in the next two weeks
  • Longer term

Additionally, our Workgroup seeks to be an information source for the campus community about the UArizona operational framework, particularly information undergirding our recommendations. 

What is our guiding principle?

To maximize effectiveness and efficiency of operations for the University, thus ensuring that we are  best positioned to tap into current and new sources of revenue while effectively controlling the use of resources for the greatest benefit of instruction, research, and the student experience.

Who are the members of the Operational Efficiencies Workgroup?

Workgroup membership can be found on the main Financial Sustainability Emergency Response Taskforce webpage.

Workgroup members were selected to help represent the broad spectrum of the UArizona community and its functions. It is expected that participants serve both as thought leaders and conduits, bringing information to and from the Workgroup, so that recommendations derive not only the Workgroup members’ expertise but the expertise of the entire community.

How do we develop recommendations?

In addition to our internal discussions, our group receives recommendations and ideas from the UArizona community. We review each recommendation and triage ideas for further consideration and development.  Members of the Workgroup: 1) collect data, including input from key users and stakeholders where appropriate and feasible, 2) conduct appropriate analyses, 3) make recommendations to key leaders, and 4) initiate actions when appropriate.  

In order for our recommendations to be successful, the Workgroup is charged with putting forward ideas that are:

  • Transformative
  • Differentiating
  • Achievable
  • Specific
  • Prioritized

Is input from outside Operational Efficiencies considered?

Yes. When considering recommendations, the Workgroup solicits information from principal leaders in each unit being considered by the group, as well as Deans, senior leadership, and the President. This input is an important piece of the decision-making and recommendation process.

Do Operational Efficiencies recommendations lead to permanent policy?

Possibly. Our recommendations may lead to interim or permanent policy or operational changes using existing UArizona processes for considering policy and organizational change.

What is Smart Design?

Smart Design is a shorthand term we are using to describe the optimal alignment of practice/functional area expertise (capabilities) with institutional resources and third party partners to achieve balanced operational management. Smart Design in the operational context means to create balance between wholly centralized operations (which can sacrifice local needs for cost efficiency) and highly decentralized operations (which can be associated with higher costs).

The concept of Smart Design challenges us to broadly review our operational expenditures to identify opportunities for better operational design by considering functional responsibility, the value the function brings to the UArizona, the potential cost savings of the proposed change, and the cost and time needed to implement the proposed change.  Smart Design may include some centralization of operations or resources but is not limited to that principle. Smart Design involves having a clear understanding of functional requirements of our academic and business units and developing and implementing aligned, innovative, and responsive practices that generate cost savings for the system as a whole.

I contributed a comment or idea, what is the status?

The OE Workgroup reviews every comment and recommendation that comes in through various channels. Each one is catalogued, reviewed, and evaluated for priority and feasibility.  We will be posting more regular updates on the status of comments and ideas in the near future.

What are you working on right now? (Updated June 3, 2020)

  • Smart Design: Establish and maintain an optimal, efficient design for performing particular support functions on behalf of the institution as its needs and opportunities change. (see What is SMART Design? FAQ)
  • Paperless: The investigation, simplification, consistent application, and adoption of paperless transactions across the University
  • Exploring Options: Assisting subgroups to investigate costs and options for: 1) a keyless campus, and 2) travel efficiencies.
  • Business Community: Provide business officers and their support staff standardized onboarding, training, community-driven support, and tools.
  • Remote Work: Guidelines for units to use in establishing remote work policies with their teams to help prevent issues from a recurrence of shifting between campus and remote work.
  • Standardizing Approach: Ensuring processes are in place for communicating initiatives and implementing them in a standard and efficient manner.

What recommendations have the Operational Efficiencies Workgroup made to Senior Leaders that have been or are being implemented? (Updated June 3, 2020)

  • Change to the Bursar hold for Fall semester
  • Postpone charging of late fees (March, April, May) and for that to be reevaluated regularly
  • Implementation of the CARES Act to delay payment of employer taxes 
  • Not refunding Program fees and Differential Tuition based on ongoing operational and instructional needs
  • Smart Design review of University functional areas, every three years - starting now
  • Partnered with Provost’s Office on Course Fee refunds
  • Partnered with HR on shared workforce initiative for student workers
  • Paused Financial Modernization project
  • Created and published an infographic to inform the community about how money flows at the University of Arizona.

Can I get involved?

Your involvement is welcomed and encouraged! Visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.

Strategic Plan Investments

What is Strategic Plan Investments’ purpose and scope?

The scope of this Workgroup is to review the initiatives of the Strategic Plan and make recommendations for reducing, delaying, and stopping investment in order to preserve the University's liquidity and cash reserves.

Visit the Strategic Plan website for more information.

What are our guiding principles?

Strategic Plan Investments' guiding principles are:

  • Minimize the impact to existing university employees employed by strategic initiatives
  • Address unavoidable contractual costs
  • Support students who are especially vulnerable given the crisis
  • Invest in opportunities that have an immediate return on investment (ROI), high probability of success and reduce the financial impact to the university resulting from the crisis

Who are the members of the Strategic Plan Investments Workgroup?

Workgroup membership can be found on the main Financial Sustainability Emergency Response Taskforce webpage.

Workgroup members were selected to help represent the broad spectrum of the UArizona community and its functions. It is expected that participants serve both as thought leaders and conduits, bringing information to and from the Workgroup, so that recommendations derive not only the Workgroup members’ expertise but the expertise of the entire community.

How do we develop recommendations?

In addition to our internal discussions, our group consults with the Office of Strategic Initiatives and with Strategic Plan Pillar Owners. We also receive recommendations and ideas from the UArizona community. We review each recommendation and triage ideas for further consideration and development.  Members of the Workgroup: 1) collect data, including input from key users and stakeholders where appropriate and feasible, 2) conduct appropriate analyses, 3) make recommendations to key leaders, and 4) initiate actions when appropriate.

Is input from outside Strategic Plan Investments considered?

Yes. When considering recommendations, the Workgroup solicits information from the Office of Strategic Initiatives, Strategic Plan Pillar Owners, senior leadership, and the President. This input is an important piece of the decision-making and recommendation process.

How Is the Strategic Plan Funded?

The initiatives under consideration are funded from Strategic Initiative Funds, these are funds made available from university cash reserves.

Do Strategic Plan Investments recommendations lead to permanent policy?

Possibly. It will be recommended that some initiatives receive reduced funding and others no funding in FY2021. This is not an indication that the initiatives nor the Strategic Plan are cancelled. Our recommendations may lead to interim or permanent changes to initiatives. Strategic Plan investments for FY2022 and beyond will be considered once the extent of the COVID-19 crisis financial impact on the university is better known.

Can I get involved?

Your involvement is welcomed and encouraged! Visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.

Students

COMING SOON!

Can I get involved?

Your involvement is welcomed and encouraged! Visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.

Workforce

What is WF’s purpose and scope?

The purpose and scope of the WF working group is to evaluate and recommend options for optimizing workforce costs, while also thoughtfully considering how to continue to support faculty, staff, and students during this crisis and recovery period. Recommendations are submitted to the Executive Team (Senior Vice Presidents) and the President for approval.

What is our guiding principle?

WF’s guiding principle is that all members of the employee workforce are the University’s greatest institutional asset and their contributions are integral to achieving the mission.

Who are the members of the WF workgroup?

A list of the workgroup members can be found here:

https://businessaffairs.arizona.edu/financial-taskforce

Members were nominated and selected to help represent the different interests, functions, and stakeholder communities across the University. Members serve as both thought leaders and conduits, bringing information to and from the workgroup, to facilitate recommendations for review by the Executive Team and President.

How does WF develop recommendations?

WF recommendations emerge as a result of discussion and evaluation of ideas brought forward by members of WF, University leaders, and University community colleagues, including those suggestions that are posted on the Get Involved webpage. To develop a recommendation, WF members: 1) collect data, comprising input from key users and stakeholders where appropriate and feasible; 2) conduct appropriate analyses; 3) propose recommendations to the Executive Team and President; and 4) provide further information and/or initiate actions when needed.

Is input from outside WF considered?

Yes. When evaluating ideas and developing recommendations, WF solicits information from the University community, shared governance leaders, and other important stakeholders. This input is essential to and strengthens the recommendation process.

Do WF recommendations lead to permanent policy?

Some WF recommendations may lead to interim or permanent policy changes, but most lead to temporary or permanent operational and/or organizational changes to existing processes and practices.

How can I get involved?

All members of the University community are welcomed and encouraged to share feedback, information, and suggestions. Please visit the Get Involved webpage to find out how.