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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Welcome to the University of Arizona

    Robert SheltonUA President
    Robert Shelton
    UA President

    This year’s freshman class is special to me, because I am also a newcomer here having served as president of the UA only since July 1. So in a sense, I’m a freshman, too.

    Though I’m new to the UA, I am not new to your experience. My wife, Adrian, and I have three children who have gone through college, including one who is in medical school right now. So we have some experiences getting students oriented to university life.

    The UA is a very special place. It is an institution of pride and possibility. It is Arizona’s oldest university, and it is a beautiful campus rich in academic offerings, research endeavors and history.

    This year, as always, the UA’s freshman class is the most academically gifted and most ethnically diverse of Arizona’s three public universities. Students come to the UA from all 50 states and more than 100 nations.

    And when you enter this scholastic global village in August, you will take your place at an institution that invites you to learn from us in the classroom and beyond. With a great deal of pride, the UA refers to itself as a “”student-centered research university,”” and for good reason.

    At the UA, students are routinely part of the research mix, and not just graduate students. At any given time in the College of Science alone, 65 percent of undergraduates are involved in research projects as part of their academic training.

    But this is not an institute of technology. It is a university with a fine liberal arts tradition to match its scientific research efforts. Exciting things are happening all over campus, and you will have the opportunity to take part in them:

    • In psychology, we are discovering how to predict and, more importantly, how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In the humanities, we are rethinking and refining how to teach foreign languages, especially those in geopolitical demand. We want to ensure that when you learn a language, you grasp the cultures attached to it and use new languages to be better citizens of this global village.
  • Our business students are learning how to take an innovative idea – like how to connect hip-hop artists around the world – and turn it into a thriving enterprise.
  • And in medicine, we are making significant advances in everything from cancer to heart disease to childhood diseases such as diabetes and asthma.
  • At every turn, UA students – undergraduates, graduate students and professional students – are part of that incredible process of discovery.

    It is the student who learns what our faculty members discover. The student helps us extend our reach into the unknown by assisting in our research projects. And today’s students eventually will replace us to become the researchers, the teachers, the business executives, the health care professionals, the poets and the community leaders of tomorrow.

    But before you tackle all the problems of the world, you need to start by getting through the UA, right? When you arrive here, you will likely notice two things: This is a beautiful campus, and it is a big university. There are 37,000 students and 14,000 employees here every day.

    Whatever you do, just be sure to get involved with life at the UA. You will not regret it.

    To break down the daunting size of this campus, the UA is home to countless smaller communities that thrive under its umbrella. You will find your “”kindred spirits”” sooner than you think, so don’t be intimidated.

    You’ll find them in your residence halls, in your academic departments and even in the meeting listings of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. You just have to look for them.

    I encourage you to look for them in the cultural events found only at the UA. Go to our football games, yes – but go see a play or a dance performance put on by your fellow students. Take in a poetry recital, a community lecture or a film festival hosted here. Join an intramural sport. Volunteer in the community.

    Whatever you do, just be sure to get involved with life at the UA. You will not regret it. A great way to start would be to attend the Freshman Convocation August 20 at 6 p.m. in Centennial Hall.

    Before just about any of this year’s incoming freshmen were born, the Peace Corps used to advertise its volunteer opportunities as “”the toughest job you’ll ever love.”” Well, the UA is a lot like that. Getting your degree will require a lot of studying and a lot of hard work.

    But you can do it, and I am confident that you will find immense satisfaction in the challenge. The tremendous sense of accomplishment in earning your bachelor’s degree is simply something you will have to experience for yourself to fully appreciate.

    I look forward to seeing the fall freshman class on campus in just a few short weeks. We’ll get to know this place together.

    Robert Shelton is President of the University of Arizona.

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