After three years as University of Arizona provost, Meredith Hay is stepping down to take a new job with the Arizona Board of Regents.

On Monday Hay will become the special adviser to the ABOR chair for strategic initiatives.

It is a newly created position to lead the board's push to set up a new state funding model for the universities, said Katie Paquet, regents spokeswoman.

"This effort is going to reshape the way higher education is delivered in Arizona, and has the potential to be a model for public universities across the country," Hay said via email. "I am thrilled to be given an opportunity to contribute."

She will stay on the UA payroll and keep her $350,000 salary for the duration of her contract, which expires in one year. Hay said she will keep her faculty position and stay in Tucson.

UA interim president Eugene Sander said senior vice president Jacqueline Lee Mok will serve as interim provost.

Mok has worked at the UA for 14 years and she has experience as a vice provost and assistant dean. Her background is in arts and music education.

She will earn $300,000 in her new role, a raise from her $200,000 salary last year.

The UA will conduct a national search to replace Hay.

The regents also are conducting a national search to replace UA President Robert Shelton, who starts his new job as executive director of the Fiesta Bowl on Monday.

Hay was hired as UA provost in February 2008. She and Shelton set in motion big budget changes and reorganizations brought on by state funding cuts, and she was criticized by faculty for making plans without including their input. She responded with a pledge for better communication.

Hay said Friday that she is proud of the leadership, staff and faculty at the UA.

"Together we have navigated the UA through the most fiscally challenging climate in its history and come out stronger on the other side," she said.

Among Hay's accomplishments at the UA are several new research initiatives, including the University of Arizona Research Corp., the Center for Creative Inquiry, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 807-8012.