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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Updated: UA gets its first female president, still needs more work

    For the first time in its 126-year history, the UA will have a female president. Ann Weaver Hart, the Arizona Board of Regents’ appointee, will start her term on July 1 and make history.

    While the appointment is commendable, it’s lamentable that it took so long for the school to step beyond the boundaries of the typical white male standard.

    The UA is touted as the premier state institution, but in this case, it falls second to Northern Arizona University. NAU had its first female president in 1993, and a year later appointed another female president, who served for seven years. Arizona State University, on the other hand, ranks bottom in the state again as it has never had a female president.

    This will be Hart’s third time serving as president of a university. She spent six years at Temple University and four years at the University of New Hampshire.

    Colleges locally and nationally grasped the concept of diverse presidential leaders years ago, and it’s deplorable that the UA is just now catching up. In fact, the UA has been dominated by white men.

    Women represent only 18 percent of people in top leadership positions, ranging from military to business and politics, according to The White House Project Report of 2009. The White House Project is a nonprofit organization that works on developing and equipping the next generation of diverse women to become leaders in business and politics.

    According to the group, less than one-quarter of leaders in academia are women.

    However, that same report showed that 94 percent of the public is comfortable with women as university presidents.

    Arizona Regent Dennis DeConcini said men always dominate presidency positions, but more and more women are entering the field.

    DeConcini, who was the co-chair for the UA Presidential Search Committee, said choosing and appointing a university president is a long process.

    Candidates must have a doctorate, have gone through medical school, developed advanced research, be able to raise outside philanthropic money and pages of other requirements, he said.

    “It takes someone with complexity,” DeConcini said. “She’s (Hart) a very, very seasoned, qualified person with tremendous credentials and success and we think it’s a good match for the UA.”

    If the reason for so few women presidents is a lack of female applicants, then more women need to step up and apply for leadership positions. But if it’s not, then there is discrimination in the workplace, and reform should take place.

    A university’s president plays a major role on campus and should reflect the school. Different races, genders, religions and sexual orientations should be represented at the highest level of college administration.

    A 2010 re-accreditation committee’s analysis of the UA found its faculty and administration are still predominately white and male.

    Hart’s appointment represents a step in the right direction, but after her term begins, she should start looking at how to increase diversity on all levels at the UA.

    — Ashley T. Powell is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

    An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated the date that Ann Weaver Hart will assume the UA presidency. The error has been corrected.

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