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Arizona’s Democratic governor on Friday vetoed a bill that would have diminished faculty members’ role in the shared governance of public universities.

The Republican-backed House Bill 2735 would’ve increased the power of presidents and state regents. Current Arizona law says the faculty “shall participate in” or “share responsibility for” governing, academic and personnel decisions. The legislation would have changed that to say professors could only “consult with” university leaders on such decisions.

“Faculty play a key role in the shared governance of a university’s academic and research affairs,” Governor Katie Hobbs wrote in her one-paragraph veto message. “Limiting their management participation in the academic affairs of the institution has the potential to weaken the institution and limit the perspectives and expertise included in decision making.”

The Arizona House of Representatives passed the bill Feb. 28 on a 31-to-28 party-line vote. It squeaked through the Senate education committee in March on another narrow, party-line vote. But the full Senate delayed passing it until June 12, three days before the Legislature adjourned. It was another party-line vote, with three Democrats not voting.

Leila Hudson, chair of the University of Arizona faculty, said in a message to faculty members Saturday that she was grateful for the veto. “This bill sought to overhaul the academic decision-making process, excluding educators from curriculum review and approval while consolidating academic authority in the hands of university presidents alone,” Hudson wrote. “Such measures posed a threat to our institutions’ excellence and to the standards of world-class higher education.”

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