Former interim director was only one interviewed after 48 applied for position

Corrections & clarifications: John Arnold’s job title is executive director. His title was incorrect in an earlier version of the story.

The Arizona Board of Regents installed a new director Thursday, appointing John Arnold to fill the position permanently.

The regents, who oversee Arizona’s three public universities, did not interview any other candidates. Arnold had been serving as the agency’s interim director.

Arizona Treasurer Eileen Klein, the organization’s previous leader, will continue getting paid over the next two months as part of her transition agreement.

Arnold joined the regents as vice president for business management and financial affairs in 2015. He worked as the state budget director under former Gov. Jan Brewer. 

He took over as interim director in May, after Klein was appointed state treasurer by Gov. Doug Ducey. 

Arnold will be paid $275,000 annually. As part of his compensation agreement, he will get $50,000 contributed to a pension plan each year. He’s also eligible for bonuses, although the specific goals and amounts aren’t set yet.

48 people applied for position

The board conducted a search for a permanent director and posted job listings. But the board didn’t hire an outside consultant to conduct a search, and Arnold was the only candidate interviewed, regents spokeswoman Sarah Harper said.

Harper said 48 people applied for the job. 

Regent Larry Penley said the board ultimately decided to interview just Arnold because he had the experience and values needed to lead the organization. He also has strong relationships with state government, an asset at a time when higher education funding lags, Penley said.

Arnold said he believes the agency is in a good position but wants to work on making the board more “outward-facing” and collaborate with other groups to improve educational attainment and better the state. 

While Klein’s title was president, Arnold’s job title is executive director. Board Chairman Ron Shoopman said the job descriptions for the two positions were identical, and the expectations for Arnold will be the same as they were for Klein. 

Previous president still being paid

In March, Klein announced her intent to leave the regents in June. But she left the job early after the treasurer appointment in April.

She’s still being paid by the regents with a title of “president emerita and special advisor to the board,” as part of the terms of a transition agreement, until Sept. 30.

Arnold’s appointment will not affect the terms of Klein’s agreement, the regents said.

The agreement shows Klein was to take annual leave as a way to reduce her base salary of $320,000 by the $70,000 treasurer’s salary, meaning the regents are paying her a $250,000 annual salary.

Under the agreement, Klein is to assist with several reports and meeting materials, and provide “as-needed advice and assistance to the board and ABOR office leadership.” 

Penley said the arrangement has benefited the board by keeping Klein available to help Arnold, other staff and regents as new leadership takes over.

“We felt that it was very important during this time period to have an effective, smooth transition,” Penley said.






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