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UA President Robbins will step down after fulfilling current contract or until replacement is found

Robbins will step down as president of UA after fulfilling terms of current contract, which runs until June 2026, or if ABOR selects a president before that time

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UA President Robert C. Robbins alongside members of the Arizona Board of Regents at the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. Additional illustration elements added on Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2024.

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins announced he will step down after fulfilling the terms of his current contract, according to a statement released April 2. 

Robbins will step aside and "ensure a smooth transition" to his successor if the Arizona Board of Regents finds a replacement before his contract expires on June 30, 2026.

According to a statement, ABOR will start a national search for a new UA president soon.

"Although this is a difficult decision, it is the right decision for me and for the university that I love so dearly," Robbins said in a statement. "It has been a true honor to lead the University of Arizona for so many years, particularly during a time of transformational change in higher education and with challenges in the world around us."

The move comes amid a financial crisis at UA. In November 2023, it was announced that there was a $140 million shortfall of cash on hand. Since then, former UA CFO Lisa Rulney has stepped away from her position and been replaced by former ABOR executive director John Arnold. 

The projected shortfall of cash on hand for the current fiscal year ending in June is $177 million.

An action plan, including an immediate freeze in hiring and employee compensation raises, was announced in December 2023. UA will also eliminate a tuition guarantee for students starting in fall 2025, which will not affect current students.

READ MORE: University of Arizona announces action plan to battle financial crisis

"The past 18 months certainly have been difficult for our University, but I am confident that our passion and commitment for doing what is right, as well as our thorough and thoughtful analysis to address our ongoing challenges, will bring our institution greater stability in short order," Robbins said.

Robbins has been president since 2017, and before his tenure in Tucson he was the CEO of Texas Medical Center. 

UA Graduate and Professional Student Council President Jeremy Bernick said this was a long time coming, and "the writing was on the wall." Bernick said this is an opportunity for ABOR and UA to find a new leadership model that is more representative of the university.

"I think it comes back to picking somebody who actually understands the fundamental nature of the people who work at university," Bernick said. 

Edited by Grey Gartin, Walker Smith and Alexis Heichman

Editor's note: This story was updated at 12:37 p.m. on April 2, 2024, with more context about Robbins and more input from UA students. This story is developing and will be updated with more information.

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Shane BrennanEditor-in-Chief

Shane Brennan is the Editor-in-Chief at The State Press. He was a sports and politics reporter, before becoming the editor of the politics desk. He has covered local and state politics for the Arizona Capitol Times and Cronkite News.

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