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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Physics head to resign

    The head of the physics department will resign from his position citing a “”lack of leadership and vision”” in the UA’s higher administration and criticizingits “”apparent inability to make tough decisions,”” according to an e-mail he sent to department faculty members Friday.

    In the e-mail, obtained by the Arizona Daily Wildcat yesterday afternoon, Pierre Meystre wrote that he made the decision to resign “”some time ago,”” but decided to withhold the news of his decision until he attended a meeting with College of Science department heads last Thursday.

    Meystre wrote that he has “”agreed”” to stay with the UA until a replacement is found, but he will not remain in his position any later than the end of the 2007-2008 academic year, adding, “”until then, it will be business as usual.””

    Meystre wrote that at the meeting it was announced “”five College of Science department heads have resigned.”” It is unknown if Meystre counted himself among those five, or if he was referring to five other individuals, who have not been identified. Meystre said he does not claim to know the specific reasons for other individuals’ resignations.

    Richard Michod, head of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, said he had similar feelings about the way the UA administration has been handled during President Robert Shelton’s first year in office.

    “”The university is trying to do too much,”” Michod said. “”I’m really upset with the president.””

    Shelton announced a $10 million cut to the university-wide budget before the start of this semester, coupled with a $9.3 million cut announced during the summer.

    The summer decision was targeted at specific projects and funding requests, while the more recent cuts, made by Shelton and Provost George Davis, have been bottom-line cuts to department budgets for the next academic year.

    Michod said he learned Tuesday that his department faces a 2 to 3 percent loss to its yearly funds in the next academic year, which he is still discussing with College of Science Dean Joaquin Ruiz.

    “”I don’t see how my department can handle any more budget cuts,”” Michod said.

    Meystre wrote in the e-mail that as a result of the budget amendments, “”we are suffering a painful death by a thousand cuts. We are no longer working hard to make this a greater University, but merely try not to sink too fast.””

    Michod said he had hoped Shelton would understand that some programs would need to be eliminated to ease strain on others facing more desperate situations. He said that to his knowledge, this has not happened.

    “”In the College of Science there’s a lot of discontent with the new president,”” Michod said.

    Michod said he hadn’t heard about Meystre’s decision until yesterday, and he is interested to see whether more department heads will resign.

    “”It’s certainly going to affect the way I approach this,”” Michod said, adding that while the budget situation can be difficult, the resignation of a department head could also be detrimental to the department.

    News of Meystre’s resignation shocked his faculty and has spurred a lot of conversation, said Shufang Su, an assistant professor of physics.

    “”Yeah, (Meystre)’s done a great job as department head,”” said Alex Cronin, also an assistant professor of physics. “”I wish he would stay on.””

    While Meystre expressed dissatisfaction with the UA higher administration in his e-mail, he also described his respect for Ruiz as “”a man of vision and intellectual courage.””

    Meystre wrote that he hopes his resignation “”will serve as a wake-up call that will finally lead to the kind of leadership that our faculty, staff and students truly deserve.””

    Shelton and Ruiz did not return calls as of press time.

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