/ Modified mar 1, 2024 12:06 p.m.

Arizona Board of Regents Chair steps down

ABOR Chair-elect Cecilia Mata will "assume the responsibilities".

University of Arizona mall and union Looking west across the University of Arizona mall. The Student Union Memorial Center and Old Main can both been seen.
AC Swedbergh / AZPM

Fred DuVal is stepping down as chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, according to a press release.

DuVal’s departure as chair comes less than one week after Governor Katie Hobbs demanded a meeting with the chair of the Arizona Board of Regents and the President of the University of Arizona. In her Monday statement, Hobbs said that “it is crystal clear that the handling of the University of Arizona crisis is heading in the wrong direction.”

DuVal’s term on ABOR ends in January 2026. In the meantime, ABOR Chair-elect Cecilia Mata "will now assume the responsibilities of the chair role".

In addition, ABOR Executive Director and UA interim Chief Financial Officer John Arnold is taking a leave of absence from his board role to better focus on his interim role at the university.

In late January, Hobbs asked that Arnold transition out of his interim CFO role due to concerns regarding “perceived” or “real” conflicts of interest in having Arnold work for the board and UA.

One of the issues Hobbs raised in her letter earlier this week was accusations from faculty at the university that DuVal has a conflict of interest.

“While I have not been given the facts and therefore cannot comment about the veracity of recent statements from faculty regarding ABOR board members' potential conflicts of interest, I do know one thing: ABOR members attacking faculty, even going so far as threatening a lawsuit, is not leadership,” Hobbs said.

DuVal served a cease-and-desist letter to Dr. Leila Hudson, chair of the University of Arizona Faculty Senate, following questions she raised last week regarding conflicts of interest at a faculty senate meeting.

“Dr. Hudson has inflicted a terrible blow to shared governance, which frankly works so well at the other two universities,” DuVal said during last week’s ABOR meeting. “How do you develop trust with people who intentionally lie about and publicly defame their partner? It's shameful.”

AZPM confirmed that DuVal was the managing director for the private investment company Amicus Investors, LLC before being appointed to the board. On its website, the company lists UA and Arizona State University as previous partners.

During a faculty senate meeting in February, Hudson said DuVal was still listed as working for the firm when he joined the board. DuVal maintained that is not true as the company “failed to land any business.”

“Even if Amicus had pursued or landed business in Arizona, which we didn't, it would have been impossible to have had a conflict because the two engagements never overlapped,” DuVal said during a February ABOR meeting.

In her statements earlier this week, Hobbs blamed the board for UA employees now losing their jobs.

“I cannot be more clear: because of Chair Duval and the Board’s actions, university employees are going to lose their jobs. Attacking faculty is not, and never will be, the answer,” Hobbs said. “Instead of taking any accountability and guiding with a steady hand, ABOR is circling the wagons and announcing they are litigating personal grudges during Board meetings…Chair DuVal and members of the Board of Regents appear more concerned with saving face than fixing the problems they created. It’s time for them to come down from their ivory tower and realize this is hurting Arizonans and the university.”

DuVal is now asking for the “intensity” surrounding recent financial struggles at the UA to be dialed down.

“It's imperative that we move away from the heat of rhetoric and politics and refocus on addressing the genuine challenges facing our institution," DuVal said. "By resigning as board chair, I want to do my part to create space for collaborative efforts toward real solutions. I have full confidence in Chair Elect Mata’s capabilities to lead effectively in this role. Personally, this transition allows me to dedicate more time to serving the University of Arizona during my remaining two years on the board.”

DuVal is offering students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to meet with him to discuss UA’s fiscal woes at the Madera Conference Room on the 3rd floor of the Student Union at UA. He said he will be available on Tuesday, March 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. and again Wednesday, March 6 from 8 to 10 a.m.

“We must solve this together and in my remaining two years on the board I plan to do so constructively and with an open mind,” DuVal said

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