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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Shelton opens door to change

    Restructuring for the University of Arizona is again on the horizon, according to a memo released by UA President Robert Shelton Thursday morning – but this time around, administration, faculty and students alike hope to avoid the turmoil of past efforts.

    The memo, which was released in an email to the university community, refers to “”the current budget dynamic,”” and promises changes that will make the university more efficient and less susceptible to annual changes in the portion of the school’s budget funded by the state.

    “”The time has come to take bold action that will radically change the way we operate,”” Shelton’s memo said.

    Shelton told the Arizona Daily Wildcat late Thursday that he does not yet know what form those changes will take.

    “”I’m purposely not going into this with preconceived notions,”” Shelton said.

    Although Thursday’s memo hinted at possible cuts in colleges and programs, announcing that Provost Meredith Hay had appointed committees to, among other things, “”restructure ourselves across our colleges and departments,”” chair of the faculty and professor of nutritional science Wanda Howell is supportive of the effort.

    “”This is really an idea whose time has come,”” Howell said. “”It’s no longer a luxury to think about transformation, about changes in the way we go about our work – it’s a necessity.””

    According to Howell, she has been involved in talks with the president and provost for the past couple of weeks, and was aware that the provost had begun assembling work groups of faculty, staff and students to look at changes and restructuring, a process which the provost has dubbed “”Arizona Transformation.””

    Comparing the new effort with Focused Excellence, the largely unsuccessful restructuring effort proposed by former university president Peter Likins six years ago, Howell expressed hope that this new effort will be different.

    “”The thinking is that ideas for realistic restructuring come up from the grass roots,”” Howell explained. “”This focus is much more attractive to everybody. Focused Excellence was a good idea, but it wasn’t seen as the critical moment in history. There’s (now) a general agreement that changes need to be made, but the real debate will be on what those changes are.””

    Another campus leader unsurprised by yesterday’s announcement was Associated Students of the University of Arizona president Tommy Bruce.

    “”Dr. Shelton came on board always planning to better the university,”” Bruce said. “”I’m actually excited by the announcement – the university has needed serious change for some time, and it’s going to take this kind of leadership to make it happen.””

    Bruce added that he had just received a request from the provost’s office for students to serve on the new committees, and has yet to recommend an appointee.

    According to Shelton, his idea for these committees is to garner recommendations on a wide range of areas that affect the overall success of the institution, from major research funding to whether appropriate numbers of credits are being awarded for undergraduate classes.

    “”I’m going to get the ideas (from) a whole lot of wise people,”” Shelton said, “”and see how we integrate them into the university – see if they stand the giggle test.””

    Shelton’s timeline for these committees is short; he has asked the still-forming groups to report their recommendations by the end of October this year.

    “”Some things will be more long-range, but I hope to have many implemented for fiscal year 2010, which begins next July,”” Shelton said.

    In addition to the input from the committees, Shelton will also be seeking input from the entire campus community in his two annual town hall meetings later this month.

    ASUA president Bruce also hopes to hear student ideas for the process.

    “”If there are any concerns out there, this is the best time to bring them up,”” Bruce said.

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