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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tucson greets Shelton at a fiesta

    President Robert Shelton, left, is welcomed to the UA by Health-Science Library staff member Stefan Walz, staff assistant with Sen. John McCains office Eric H. Arvayo, and UA alumna Janis Gallego. More than 500 people attended the community welcome yesterday.
    President Robert Shelton, left, is welcomed to the UA by Health-Science Library staff member Stefan Walz, staff assistant with Sen. John McCain’s office Eric H. Arvayo, and UA alumna Janis Gallego. More than 500 people attended the community welcome yesterday.

    President Robert Shelton was given a fiesta-themed welcome last night, where he was praised by the Tucson community for reaching out to different groups and demonstrating effective leadership during his short time in office.

    The committee chose the fiesta theme not only because it fit with Southwestern tradition but also because Shelton is a Phoenix native, said Kathy Hawkes-Smith, director of university events in the president’s office.

    “”We wanted to make him feel like he was back at home,”” Hawkes-Smith said.

    Retired President Peter Likins said when he first met Shelton during the presidential search, he practiced handing Shelton a baton that he kept in his office, symbolizing the transition from the president to his successor. Shelton was the only one of the four candidates that Likins did that with.

    When he finished recounting the story, Likins pulled the red baton out of his jacket and presented it to Shelton as a gift.

    Most of the estimated 500 people at the event stood in a line snaking around the Student Union Memorial Center North Ballroom so they could shake hands and chat casually with Shelton and his wife Adrian.

    Hawkes-Smith said the food, decorations and music were paid for mostly with money set aside for the presidential search committee, although she didn’t know the amount.

    When the program started, Likins, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, Provost George Davis and other community leaders shared humorous anecdotes and heartfelt appreciation while the Sheltons sat onstage and soaked in the welcome.

    But after some time was spent highlighting Shelton’s achievements and potential, the honored guest was quick to turn the attention to everyone else.

    “”A celebration like this is not about Adrian and me but about this great community,”” Shelton said. “”It seems like my life preparation has led me to this.””

    Before he left the stage, he surprised his wife with a bouquet of red roses for their 37th wedding anniversary, which the couple is celebrating this week.

    Adrian Shelton said she was stunned by the enthusiasm people showed for the pair.

    “”I knew that this was a great place, but I could not have imagined the warm welcome we’ve received from people all over this community,”” she said.

    The event was a joint effort by the UA Foundation, Alumni Association, Arizona Athletics and University Achievement, Hawkes-Smith said.

    Large clusters of people gathered in the North Ballroom of the student union, where cactus cutouts decorated the floor next to hot trays overflowing with chips, salsa and chimichangas. A mariachi band performed for the people eating or waiting to greet the Sheltons, even trumpeting a festive rendition of the UA fight song, “”Bear Down, Arizona.””

    A similar celebration will be held Sept. 7 for the community to say farewell to Likins. The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the student union North Ballroom.

    Shelton will be officially inaugurated as the 19th UA president Oct. 26, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Centennial Hall.

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