Financial Challenges

Nov. 11, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past several years, the University of Arizona has made significant investments in key areas that advance our strategic plan; support our faculty, staff, and students; and elevate our University’s impact. That plan has proved effective, resulting in a very successful period in our University’s history.

We began implementing our strategic plan initiatives in 2018. At that time, we had built up 182 days of cash on hand (reserves) and planned to strategically invest our surplus in a concerted effort to advance the University in bold ways and to best serve the state of Arizona. As a result, the University has had great success in critical areas. For example, we have achieved record applications, enrolled the largest, most diverse, and most qualified classes in University history, and improved retention and graduation rates. We have experienced record years in research activity and expect to surpass $900 million this year. As demonstrated during the Fuel Wonder fundraising campaign launch earlier this month, our alumni and donors are supporting this University more than ever before.

We purposefully used reserves to fuel this success. However, it has become clear that we have overinvested and that some colleges and units have overspent.

The Arizona Board of Regents currently requires universities to maintain a minimum of 140 days of cash on hand. Based on a financial model the University had used successfully for the last decade, in March it was projected we would have 156 days at the end of the last fiscal year, June 30, 2023.  We very recently confirmed the University had 110 days cash on hand at the end of FY 2023 and is projected to have less next year. The model produced a significant overestimate because it did not account for the collective accelerations in spending. The model has been replaced.

We must report our strategy to address the University’s financial issues to ABOR by Dec. 15.  As I recently told the Regents and members of the Faculty Senate, we will review all options. I am committed to working with our faculty, staff, and shared governance partners to take the actions necessary to ensure this University continues its upward trajectory and remains strong in its core teaching, research, and outreach mission.

There will be much more information shared in the days and weeks ahead. But for now, I would like to leave you with this. The last few years have been some of the most challenging, and most successful, in University of Arizona history. Through every challenge, we have rolled up our sleeves, come together as a community, and emerged on the other side even stronger. I am confident we will face this challenge with the same grit and determination to ultimately position the University of Arizona for tremendous ongoing success.


Robert C. Robbins, M.D.


The University of Arizona

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