Four alternatives have been submitted to the plan crafted by Regents President Chris Herstam to revamp the state university system.
One by the director of Northern Arizona University’s campus at Yuma and the president of Western Arizona College is a minor modification of Herstam’s plan to create two regional universities out of branch campuses of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. But the other three are outright rejections of Herstam’s proposal.
One seeks to keep the three-university system but expand programs with community colleges and even offer selected baccalaureate and master’s programs at combined university-community college centers.
A second seeks to preserve and expand ASU West as a research institution. The proposal submitted by the ASU West chapter of the American Association of University Professors also seeks to turn several community colleges into four-year institutions.
The most radical would preserve the three state schools but split off all research functions into a separate Arizona Research University. That plan, pushed by Jon Garrido, president of East Valley League of United Latin American Citizens, also urges creation of Arizona Hispanic University to recruit Hispanics and train them in business.
At stake is how higher education will develop in Arizona for the next few decades. Herstam said the system of three similar universities, all giving various degrees, is inefficient.
Herstam’s wants three regional universities: NAU, Central Arizona University derived from ASU West, and Southern Arizona University made up of NAU’s Yuma operations along with the UA’s Sierra Vista campus.
The most far-reaching alternative comes from Garrido.
He said Arizona could be 50 percent Hispanic in 20 years. But he fears the Herstam plan, coupled with a proposal by ASU President Michael Crow for a research center in Scottsdale, will leave behind "a second tier mediocre university where Hispanic students in the lower tier of the state’s university will be banished to an inferior education system.’’
He said Arizona Hispanic University would have courses and degrees in international business, Chicano studies, and selling to the Hispanic market.