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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Likins talks troubles

    President Peter Likins spoke to a crowd of about 50 people yesterday afternoon at Gallagher Theater as part of the ongoing Faculty Fellow Speaker Series. Likins spoke about why professors and university presidents are often undervalued in an entitlement culture and what may happen if current trends persist.
    President Peter Likins spoke to a crowd of about 50 people yesterday afternoon at Gallagher Theater as part of the ongoing Faculty Fellow Speaker Series. Likins spoke about why professors and university presidents are often undervalued in an ‘entitlement’ culture and what may happen if current trends persist.

    President Peter Likins said yesterday that public support for higher education is declining in a society where its importance has never been greater.

    Throughout his entire academic career, Likins said he has witnessed a shift in the way public universities are seen and run in America. This shift is from an internal expectation for an institution to an external expectation.

    Likins’ lecture “”Paddling in White Water”” in the Gallagher Theater was part of the speaker series sponsored by the Dean of Students Office, Faculty Fellows Program, UofA BookStores, Arizona Student Unions and UA Channel 3.

    Likins said in order for universities to receive funding, they are pressured by society and investors to prove the worth of their research and the monetary return they could possibly create.

    Even though it is not difficult for the sciences to produce immediate rewards, this attitude is dangerous for the liberal arts and humanities. For those colleges, results are more abstract and realized on a long-term scale in terms of development of the human spirit, Likins said.

    Likins said in his early days as a university administrator, money was not as hard to come by and university faculty didn’t have to prove their worth to society.

    “”We thought we would be rewarded, as long as we did what we were trained to do in a way that was valued by our peers,”” he said.

    Now, funding not only requires excellent performance and acceptance of peers, but also society’s approval, Likins said.

    Although higher education is worth more to society than ever before, Likins said taxpayers are not willing to invest in education.

    In order for the university to move forward and convince taxpayers and society about the importance of education, the university community needs to be more optimistic about the problem of declining state resources, he said.

    Even though the value of a higher education is almost unspoken in a university environment, Likins said faculty need to speak out about the importance of what they do: Faculty not only teach the next generation but advance the economy through knowledge.

    “”We need to proudly boast about these values,”” Likins said.

    As new UA president Robert Shelton takes over July 1, Likins said faculty need to “”internalize the need for confidence and optimism and an open spirit.””

    Likins said when he assumed his presidency in 1997, he told faculty, “”Hold on folks, we’re going to take a ride; everybody has got an oar, and we’re going to be paddling the white water.””

    Although Likins said the problem brought on by the “”white water”” is growing and will not go away, he said faculty need to strongly advocate the values they bring to society in a positive way.

    Likins said he will leave the presidency with an “”understanding of the white water that we are all paddling through.””

    “”We can’t just sit back and watch it happen,”” Likins said.

    Lindsay Diamond, an undeclared freshman, said it was interesting to hear the UA president speak.

    “”It is important to hear what our president has to say because it teaches us what it’s like to run a good university,”” she said.

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