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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Finding focus

    “”Don’t be focused on what can be. Focus on what is,”” President Robert Shelton said to student leaders in September.

    More than six months into his tenure at the helm of the UA, Shelton would do well to heed the advice he gave to student leaders as he works with the Arizona State Legislature and Gov. Janet Napolitano this semester.

    In her state of the state address Monday, Napolitano indicated that she wanted to provide more money to hire high-caliber faculty.

    It’s likely that she’ll be met with some success. The Senate Committee on Higher Education is under the direction of a new chairman, Sen. Tom O’Halleran, R-Sedona, whose previous votes seem to indicate that he’ll be sympathetic to the concerns of higher education officials. The House Committee on Higher Education, meanwhile, is chaired by a UA alumna from a moderate district – Rep. Jennifer Burns, R-Avra Valley.

    Even so, while it might seem natural to pursue glitzy goals for the future, Shelton should focus on the present by securing funding for essentials before seeking money to hire star faculty.

    Consider, for instance, that the UA was slammed recently for failing to provide adequate access for low-income and minority students; that successive tuition hikes have forced many students to choose between an education and financial solvency; and that Arizona’s population is booming even while the state consistently lands at the bottom of education rankings. Faced with such dire realities, it only makes sense to address the fundamentals before the frills.

    Napolitano’s policy goals are admirable, especially in a state that isn’t exactly known for its support of education. But Shelton should make it clear that the causes (and effects) of his $10.3 million in budget cuts reach much further than a mere lack of qualified faculty. He should make it clear that the UA needs to stem the tide of tuition increases and budget cuts before it can even begin to think about Napolitano’s more glamorous goals.

    In September, it was clear that Shelton recognized the value of prioritizing. Hopefully, that wisdom will extend to the legislative session this year.

    Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Damion LeeNatali, Stan Molever, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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