Amid the University of Arizona’s financial crisis, President Robert Robbins announced the launch of a University Advisory Council. He says it will allow him to gather perspectives from people all across the university.

As the situation currently stands, independent auditors will be looking at University of Arizona’s finances as it works to pull out of a $177 million dollar deficit.

The new advisory council will include university faculty, staff and students. It will be in addition to other shared governance partners like the Faculty Senate.

Robbins sent out a memo to faculty and staff on Tuesday:

The University of Arizona community is incredible because of our amazing people and their diversity of experiences. I have tremendous respect for each of you, our faculty, staff and students. Your voice is important. Your thoughts, suggestions and expertise are critical for our Universitys success. To further increase input, guidance, and consultation from and with a wider group of important campus stakeholders, I am pleased to announce the formation of the University Advisory Council. As a proponent and strong supporter of shared governance and community feedback, I look forward to expanding our ability to gather valuable perspectives from more voices across the University of Arizona. The University Advisory Council will include a combined group of faculty, staff and students who meet regularly with me and the senior leadership team. The council will offer guidance on a variety of matters of significance, including efforts to improve our Universitys quality and reputation and the evaluation of strategies to enhance the Universitys ability to achieve its central mission of teaching, research and service. The council will serve as an additional channel for communication between my office and campus constituents to enhance and promote the Universitys excellence. The University Advisory Council will complement other shared governance partners including the Faculty Senate, the University of Arizona Staff Council, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA), the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) and the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (SPBAC). Regular meetings will occur between the leadership of all shared government partners and the UAC. I believe in hearing from more voices, not fewer. Along with our existing shared governance bodies, UAC will bring together faculty, staff and student perspectives to help us navigate complex issues facing higher education and the University of Arizona. My office is finalizing the University Advisory Council charter, and I am working with the deans and other leaders to identify inaugural council members. Membership details will be announced in the coming weeks, and we plan to have our first meeting in March. I am thankful for each of you and for all you do to make ours one of the top educational and research universities in the nation. I look forward to hearing more of your ideas for helping the University of Arizona achieve even greater success in the coming years.

The councils members will be appointed, instead of being voted on like most of the universitys other forms of shared governance. President Robbins says membership details will come in following weeks and the first meeting is set for next month.

Another meeting set to take place in March is between the Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona leadership and Governor Katie Hobbs.

Governor Hobbs demanded the in-person meeting after a series of conflicting accounts and an ABOR meeting on February 22 which had personal attacks and threats of lawsuits.

Governor Hobbs released this statement on Monday:

It is crystal clear that the handling of the University of Arizona crisis is heading in the wrong direction. New facts have come to light that once again show the Arizona Board of Regents failed in their oversight role and highlight a university leadership that was clueless as to their own finances. In the past days, instead of addressing their failure of leadership, ABOR has told conflicting stories to me, the press, and the public about the purchase of Ashford University. And while I have not been given the facts and therefore cannot comment about the veracity of recent statements from faculty regarding ABOR board members potential conflicts of interest, I do know one thing: ABOR members attacking faculty, even going so far as threatening a lawsuit, is not leadership. I cannot be more clear: because of Chair Duval and the Boards actions, university employees are going to lose their jobs. Attacking faculty is not, and never will be, the answer. Instead of taking any accountability and guiding with a steady hand, ABOR is circling the wagons and announcing they are litigating personal grudges during Board meetings. In the February 22nd meeting, an ABOR member openly called for President Robbins to overthrow the faculty’s governing body. This behavior is appalling and unacceptable. Chair DuVal and members of the Board of Regents appear more concerned with saving face than fixing the problems they created. Its time for them to come down from their ivory tower and realize this is hurting Arizonans and the university. At some point, enough needs to be enough, and that time is now. People’s livelihoods are at risk. College affordability is under threat. The state and the University of Arizona have suffered immense reputational damage as a result of this crisis. This lack of accountability and continued scapegoating can no longer continue. I am demanding an in-person meeting with ABOR leadership and President Robbins immediately where we will discuss next steps.

In response, ABOR Chair Fred Duval released a statement.

The Arizona Board of Regents appreciates the Governors engagement with financial issues related to the University of Arizona, and we look forward to this opportunity to answer questions and allay any miscommunication. On matters related to both the financial difficulties at UArizona and the integration of UAGC, we have strived at all times to be transparent, detailed and specific in the information provided to the Governors office and the general public. ABOR takes seriously its constitutional duty to oversee each of our states public universities. The Board and Governor have a shared interest in seeing UArizona succeed, and that will require working together to help resolve the important issues facing this great university.

The meeting is scheduled to take place next week.