ASU President speaks to Legislature about higher education funding

President Crow, along with the presidents of UA and NAU, spoke to the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday

ASU President Michael Crow testified before the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state's budget and how increased higher education funding would benefit the state's economy.

His appearance comes after Gov. Doug Ducey unveiled his Executive Budget for fiscal year 2021 that proposed $7.3 billion in higher education funding, including projects like the Failing Students Tutoring Fund, instructional improvement and Arizona universities' ability to direct students to areas that help the future economy of Arizona.

"ASU is dedicated to using all of its learning and research assets to support this effort by producing more graduates and groundbreaking innovations that will drive our economy forward," Crow said in a statement when the budget first crossed his desk on Jan. 17. "We appreciate what Governor Ducey has proposed in his budget and we look forward to more discussions on the merits and scale of this investment."

Crow said at the Appropriations Committee Tuesday that the "catalytic investment" from the state allows ASU to meet the governor's plan to further higher education in specific areas that will boost the economy and make Arizona more competitive in the long run.

These projects are all part of The New Economy Initiative that was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents. The rest of the plan and budget will go to the retention of a skilled workforce that maintains local industries, provides new teachers, increases university enrollment and degree programs and allows for the universities to remain competitive for federal research funding.

Alongside Crow at the hearing was UA President Robert C. Robbins and NAU President Rita H. Cheng.

Together, the trio discussed general expansion of funding for higher education and its positive effects on the workforce and post-graduation residents. Crow focused on the benefits the funding would bring to the state, highlighting the money's use in space and defense, engineering and health sciences at ASU.

Crow focused the first part of his testimony on health sciences, specifically addressing the healthcare workforce shortage and fueling further economic growth. He mentioned using the money to create readying curriculum for students studying health so they can address Arizona's aging and rural populations.

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