The Arizona Constitution establishes the Arizona Board of Regents as the governing body for the state’s university system. See Arizona Constitution, Article 11, §5. Current statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§15-1621 through 15-1785. Administrative rules are found at Arizona Administrative Code R7-4-101 through R7-4-105.
The Board governs Arizona’s university system, consisting of three state universities: Arizona State University (ASU); Northern Arizona University (NAU); and the University of Arizona (U of A). The Board consists of ten members, including two student members. The Governor appoints eight members to terms of eight years and two student members to staggered two-year terms. The Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction serve as ex-officio members.
Statute authorizes ABOR to appoint university presidents and institution employees; adopt personnel policies; fix tuition and fees; prescribe qualifications for admission; establish curricula and award degrees; establish a student exchange program; manage the state museum; adopt intellectual property policies; establish the Arizona Area Health Education System in the U of A College of Medicine; administer the Technology and Research Initiative Fund; manage Teacher Training Schools; acquire, lease or dispose of real or personal property; issue bonds for building renewal projects and new facilities; and own and lease property for the benefit of the state and its universities. Statute also provides funding for lease-purchase capital financing of research infrastructure projects and capital infrastructure.
Certain lands were set aside at statehood to be managed for the sole purpose of generating revenue for specific beneficiaries, including universities. The trust status of the land imposes obligations and constraints. Management of the trust is governed by the Enabling Act, the Arizona Constitution, Arizona Revised Statutes and extensive case law. ABOR is a beneficiary of the State Land Trust and distributes trust monies to the universities. These monies are non-appropriated.
In addition to obligations related to administrative and financial policies, the Board is responsible for a number of other programs, including the Arizona Teachers Incentive Program; the Arizona Transfer Articulation Support System; Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE); and the Arizona Teacher Academy.
The Territory of Arizona existed from Feb 24, 1863 until Feb 14, 1912 when it was admitted to the Union as the state of Arizona. Territorial law established the University of Arizona, governed by a four-member board of regents, appointed by the Governor to terms of four years. The Governor of the Territory and the Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction served as ex-officio members. The board of regents was authorized to appoint a chancellor, enact laws for the government of the university, appoint professors, tutors, officers and employees, establish salaries, expend funds, construct buildings, charge for assaying ores taken from deposits and mines in the Territory, provide for accommodation and education of deaf and blind residents, expend monies from the University Fund for buildings, operation and maintenance, and issue bonds. The Board was also authorized to establish and manage the Territorial Museum for archeological resources, minerals, and flora and fauna of the Territory. See Civil Code 1901, Title 56, Chapter 4.
Territorial law also established normal schools in Tempe and Northern Arizona, “the purpose of which shall be the instruction of persons, both male and female, in the art of teaching”. Separate boards of education with specific powers and duties were established for each normal school. See Civil Code 1901, Title 56, Chapters 5 and 6.
Laws 1912, Chapter 40 increased the number of regents from four to seven. The Governor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction served as ex-officio members.
Laws 1912, First Special Session, Chapter 62 established the State Laboratory at the U of A and required the Board of Regents, acting in joint session with the Superintendent of Public Health, to appoint a laboratory director.
Laws 1919, Chapter 36 increased the number of regents to eight members, named the Governor as an ex-officio member and eliminated the State Superintendent of Public Instruction as an ex-officio member. The eight members were appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the Senate, to terms of eight years.
Laws 1925, Chapter 23 renamed the Tempe Normal School as the Tempe State Teachers’ College and the Northern Arizona Normal School as the Northern Arizona State Teachers’ College. The measure authorized the representative boards of education for the colleges to establish a teachers’ training course of four years and award the degree of Bachelor of Education.
A second measure enacted in 1925 modified responsibilities of the Board of Regents and established non-resident tuition. See Laws 1925, Chapter 55.
Laws 1927, Chapter 105 authorized the Board to accept benefits provided by the U.S. Congress for agricultural experiment stations. The measure designated the Board as a state board for purposes of cooperating with agencies of the federal government and administering programs related to agricultural experiment stations.
Laws 1935, Chapter 18 was an emergency measure which authorized the Board of Regents and the boards of education for the teachers’ colleges to employ legal assistance as part of the effort to procure loans for the institutions from the U.S. government.
Laws 1944, Second Special Session, Chapter 6 was an emergency measure which authorized the teachers’ colleges to enter into agreements with any department of the U.S. government to conduct extension work. The authority lasted “….as long as the present state of war exists between the Axis powers” and for up to six months after the end of the war.
Laws 1945, Chapter 80 transferred jurisdiction, authority and duties previously vested with the Board of Regents of the University of Arizona and the boards of education of the teachers’ colleges at Tempe and Flagstaff to the new “Board of Regents of the University and State Colleges of Arizona.” The measure outlined administrative powers of the Board, listed those funds under control of the Board and established reporting requirements. The measure also addressed transition and appointment of Board members.
An initiative petition was approved by a majority of voters at the general election in November 1958, changing the name of Arizona State College at Tempe to Arizona State University. See the Proposition 200 in the 1958 Publicity Pamphlet, the November 4, 1958 Official Canvass, and 1959 Session Laws, Proclamations (page 403).
Laws 1965, Chapter 37 changed the name of Arizona State College at Flagstaff to “Northern Arizona University” and also changed the name of the Board of Regents of the University and State Colleges of Arizona to the “Board of Regents of the Universities and State College of Arizona”.
Laws 1966, Chapter 110 authorized the Board to issue revenue bonds for projects and modified the general administrative powers of the Board.
Laws 1972, Chapter 52 required the Board to prescribe admission qualifications for honorably discharged veterans.
Laws 1974, Chapter 125 allowed the Board to establish optional retirement programs and outlined administrative procedures and conditions.
Laws 1976, Chapter 60 required the Board to issue a report on a plan to establish and implement a system of equivalent wages and salaries for all employees and supervisory personnel (excluding presidents, deans, professors, fellows and other officers). The report was to be submitted to the Legislature by January 15, 1977.
Laws 1977, Chapter 31 required the Board to adopt energy conservation standards for construction of new buildings.
Laws 1979, Chapter 168 provided discretionary authority to the Board to hold meetings of advisory committees in executive session if those meetings involve student records. A student whose records are to be considered may request the meeting be held as a public meeting.
Laws 1981, Chapter 1 recodified statutes pertaining to the Board but did not make substantive changes. A second measure enacted that year authorized the Board to employ legal counsel and exempted the Board from previous statutory restrictions regarding hiring counsel for legal services. See Laws 1981, Chapter 262.
Laws 1983, Chapter 289 deleted Board authority to increase tuition and fees in order to secure bonds. The measure also required the Board to submit a comprehensive merit pay plan for all faculty, administrators, professionals and classified employees to the Legislature by December 31, 1983. If the Legislature took no action, the Board was required to implement the plan on July 1, 1984.
Laws 1986, Chapter 321 authorized the Board to adopt policies to allow universities to enter into multiple-year employment contracts with nontenured employees. Contracts could not exceed a five-year term and had to be approved by the Board.
Laws 1987, Chapter 76 established the position of a student regent to serve on the Board and outlined the method of appointment and duties of the student member.
Laws 1988, Chapter 299 required the Board to adopt personnel rules for non-academic employees of the universities. The measure also authorized the Board to issue revenue bonds in an amount not to exceed $263,900,000 for university projects approved by the Legislative Joint Committee on Capital Review. The University Capital Improvement Study Committee was created, consisting of six appointed legislators to report on specific issues by December 31, 1989.
Laws 1989, Chapter 7 authorized the student member of the Board to vote.
Laws 1990, Chapter 340 established the Arizona Teachers Incentive Program to provide loans for students studying deaf and blind education at the U of A College of Education.
Laws 1992, Chapter 213 allowed the Board to establish a student exchange program with universities in Sonora, Mexico for up to fifty students. Universities are authorized to work in conjunction with the Arizona-Mexico Commission to coordinate recruitment and admissions.
A second measure enacted in 1992 modified the general administrative powers of the Board regarding: appointment and compensation of officers and employees of the universities; tuition rates; qualification for admission; and vehicles operated on university property. See Laws 1992, Chapter 307.
Laws 1993, Second Special Session, Chapter 8 required the Board to submit an annual budget request for each university, including an estimation of tuition and fee revenue available to support the programs of the institution. Legislation enacted the following year modified this requirement and also required the Board to adopt an annual operating budget equal to the amount of appropriated funds and tuition allocated to each university. See Laws 1994, Chapter 59.
Laws 1994, Chapter 218 established the Arizona State University East Campus, located at the site of the closed Williams Air Force Base, near Chandler.
The following year, the Legislature appropriated $3.38 million from the state general fund for redevelopment expenses at the former Williams Air Force Base. The amount appropriated for the ASU East Campus was $1.5 million to be used for building renovations and telecommunications linkages. The remainder of the appropriation was allocated to the Williams Gateway Airport Authority for infrastructure improvements to match federal funding. The measure included a legislative intent clause. See Laws 1995, Chapter 298.
Laws 1997, Chapter 230 established the honors endorsement program and required the Board to develop procedures to implement the program for the freshman class of 1998.
Laws 1999, Chapter 259 established public notification requirements for the Board to follow when considering tuition increases.
Laws 2000, Chapter 128 established a second student member of the Board and outlined transition language for appointment of the second student member.
Laws 2003, Chapter 267 appropriated monies to the universities for lease-purchase capital financing of research infrastructure projects.
Laws 2006, Chapter 352 established Board reporting requirements for: the number of students who exceeded the credit hour threshold in the previous fiscal year; operational and capital plans for the ASU downtown campus; and an annual financial aid report for each individual university.
Laws 2007, Chapter 265 established the Math, Science and Special Education Teacher Student Loan Program, administered by the Board, to grant loans to in-state students who agree to teach specific subjects at Arizona public schools.
Laws 2009. Third Special Session, Chapter 9 required the Board to develop a uniform accounting and reporting system for the universities. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee was required to review the system prior to its adoption by the Board.
Laws 2011, Chapter 30 required the Board to submit an annual report to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee describing the graduation rate by university campus, as well as the retention rate by university campus and class.
Laws 2012, Chapter 301 required the Board to develop a performance funding model and to use the model to develop and submit budget requests for universities under its jurisdiction.
Laws 2013, First Special Session, Chapter 7 required the Board to submit an annual report on university debt and obligations to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.
Laws 2014, Ch 213 authorized the ABOR, the State Board for Private Postsecondary Education and community college districts to enter a reciprocity agreement for purposes of managing postsecondary distance education. The measure outlined the process, participation, administration, terms and responsibilities associated with executing an intergovernmental agreement.
Laws 2016, Chapter 238 authorized the Board to issue commercial paper to provide short-term financing for capital projects or costs and expenses related to a capital project. The measure outlined requirements, repayment obligations and limitations.
Laws 2017, Chapter 310 authorized ABOR and the universities to develop the Arizona Teacher Academy, which provides a waiver of tuition and fees for Arizona residents who enroll in teaching programs and commit to teach in Arizona public schools. The program, initially limited to one year, was made permanent by Laws 2018, Chapter 281. An annual report is required.
- Organic Law of Arizona, Paragraphs 91-93 (PDF pp. 93-95)
- Arizona Constitution, Article 11, §§5 and 10
- Arizona Civil Code 1901, Title 56, Chapters 4, 5 and 6
- Arizona Civil Code 1913, Sections 4470 through 4505 (University of Arizona); Section 4506 through 4525 (normal schools):
- Arizona Revised Code 1928, Sections 1130 through 1155
- Code 1939 (Revised 1952) Article 13, Sections 54-1301 et seq.; Article 16, Sections 1601 et seq.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§15-1621 through 15-1785
- Arizona Administrative Code R7-4-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1912, Chapter 40
- Laws 1912, First Special Session, Chapter 62
- Laws 1919, Chapter 36
- Laws 1925, Chapter 23 and Chapter 55
- Laws 1927, Chapter 105
- Laws 1935, Chapter 18
- Laws 1944, Second Special Session, Chapter 6
- Laws 1945, Chapter 80
- Laws 1959, Proclamations (page 403)
- Laws 1965, Chapter 37
- Laws 1966, Chapter 110
- Laws 1972, Chapter 52
- Laws 1974, Chapter 125
- Laws 1976, Chapter 60
- Laws 1977, Chapter 31
- Laws 1979, Chapter 168
- Laws 1981, Chapter 1 and Chapter 262
- Laws 1983, Chapter 289
- Laws 1986, Chapter 321
- Laws 1987, Chapter 76
- Laws 1988, Chapter 299
- Laws 1989, Chapter 7
- Laws 1990, Chapter 340
- Laws 1992, Chapter 213 and Chapter 307
- Laws 1993, Second Special Session, Chapter 8
- Laws 1994, Chapter 59 and Chapter 218
- Laws 1995, Chapter 298
- Laws 1997, Chapter 230
- Laws 1999, Chapter 259
- Laws 2000, Chapter 128
- Laws 2003, Chapter 267
- Laws 2006, Chapter 352
- Laws 2007, Chapter 265
- Laws 2009, Third Special Session, Chapter 9
- Laws 2011, Chapter 30
- Laws 2012, Chapter 301
- Laws 2013, First Special Session, Chapter 7
- Laws 2014, Chapter 213
- Laws 2016, Chapter 238
- Laws 2017, Chapter 310
- Laws 2018, Chapter 281
Arizona Board of Regents website
Related Collections at Arizona State Archives
Record Group 006 – Secretary of the Territory, 1863-1922
Record Group 059 – Land Department
Record Group 079 – Arizona Board of Regents