Eileen Klein

Eileen Klein

Eileen Klein, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, announced Monday that she is stepping down from the board that oversees the state’s three public universities.

Klein said she is leaving to take time off before deciding what her “next adventure will be,” according to a posting on the regents’ website.

Klein was hired to the top staff position of the board five years ago under a three-year contract, then received an extension to that contract. Her base salary was $320,000.

As president, Klein oversees the staff of the Board of Regents and works with the university presidents on strategic goals outlined by the board, whose members are appointed by the governor.

Her date of departure has not been set, but Klein said she would work with the board during her transition in the next few months.

“Without a doubt, President Klein has made a lasting difference to Arizona’s public, higher education. In collaboration with the board and our university presidents, she has repositioned our universities for long-term success — focused on outcomes, strategic decision-making, long-term competitiveness, total transparency and quality assurance,” Regents Chairman Bill Ridenour said in a statement.

Klein served as chief operating officer and vice president for a health-care company, UnitedHealthcare’s Arizona Physicians IPA, before becoming chief of staff for then-Gov. Jan Brewer about 10 years ago.

“Recognizing that the success of our state and the people who live here is tied more than ever to educational success, I came to the Arizona Board of Regents to help ensure a vibrant university system for students today and those of tomorrow,” Klein said.

Klein was a major force behind bringing the universities together “to coordinate and compliment activities through their strategic plans in a way that leads to a much brighter future for our state,” said regent Rick Myers.

Her announced departure comes just after the Legislature’s latest attempts to dismantle the board, led by state Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley.

Finchem says the board has overstepped its duties.

His proposed bill would give the governor and the Legislature more control over university policy and would create separate local boards to oversee the three schools.

Contact Mikayla Mace at mmace@tucson.com or (520) 573-4158. On Twitter: @mikaylagram