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Letter to the editor: ASU's success justifies President's pay

Both our state and our students are better off because the Regents retain President Crow with a salary that reflects his worth in a very competitive marketplace for talent

letter to the editor graphic

 "Dear State Press, you've got mail." Illustration published on Friday, March 3, 2017.

A recent opinion piece from The State Press expressed opposition to President Michael Crow’s salary as just approved by the Arizona Board of Regents. Let me speak for our Board in response.

I appreciate that the author gives credit to Crow’s leadership moving ASU from a party school to a research "powerhouse," keeping average student debt of an ASU graduate at approximately half of the national average and avoiding tuition increases. But the author then inexplicably treats these as accomplishments unworthy of justifying the president's salary. 

So let me broaden the picture.

  • ASU is one of the fastest-growing Research 1 four-year public universities without a medical school.
  • ASU now supports student financial aid at over $590 million annually and has dramatically increased access to communities that were heretofore left outside the gates.
  • The ASU Foundation has quadrupled its size and capacity to provide scholarship assistance under President Crow.
  • ASU's brand as the most innovative university in the country has been earned with massive success in immersive learning and globally competitive online platforms.
  • ASU's retention and graduation rates have consistently improved over the years.
  • ASU's efficiency — measured in cost-per-degree — is among the nation's highest.

The net result is that more students, of broader diversity, have access to a degree, more ways to get it and at a lower cost. And most importantly, today's ASU degree will earn its graduates far more than it used to. 

It is worthwhile to point out that in 2021, 45% of undergraduates from ASU graduated with no debt, according to the ABOR FY 21 Financial Aid Report

I suspect many students appreciate that and the leadership that brought us here.

The framers backed the "nearly free as possible" commitment in the Arizona Constitution with a revenue provision later in the Constitution, which reads: "The legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement."

Read together, the framers' intent is clear.

Finally, the author cites the Charter and argues that ASU's "responsibility to the community" is more important than goals like student enrollment. Frankly, I can't think of a higher demonstration of ASU's responsibility to the community than growing student enrollment and degree attainment.

Growing degree attainment changes family trajectory, broadens equitable opportunity, adds value to our workforce and economic value to our state. Arizona has among the lowest attainment rates in the country and a low-average family income. The economic correlation between degree attainment and economic growth is demonstrably well-established.

But there's more. Today's ASU is conducting breakthrough research in areas from energy to healthcare to technology that will improve our lives. And the net result is literally billions of dollars in economic value to our region and state that didn't exist before.

Crow is widely heralded as one of the most effective higher education leaders in the country, and I daresay the world. Recruiters knock on his door regularly with fat checkbooks. Both our state and our students are better off because the Regents retain him with a salary that reflects his worth in a very competitive marketplace for talent.

Editor’s Note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by Fred DuVal, chair elect of the Arizona Board of Regents.

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