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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona celebrates 125th birthday

Rodney Haas / Arizona Daily Wildcat

President Robert Shelton fist-bumps hip-hop dancers of the UA Dance Ensemble after their performances for the celebration of the universitys 125th birthday on March 2, 2010. The dancers varying acts were representing different eras of the schools history, from the 1910s through World War II up to present day.
Rodney Haas
Rodney Haas / Arizona Daily Wildcat President Robert Shelton fist-bumps hip-hop dancers of the UA Dance Ensemble after their performances for the celebration of the university’s 125th birthday on March 2, 2010. The dancers’ varying acts were representing different eras of the school’s history, from the 1910’s through World War II up to present day.

In 1885 C.C Stevens was sent to Prescott to win Tucson the territorial capital. But when the capital was awarded to Prescott, the next best thing was an insane asylum. The last thing people in Tucson wanted was a university.

The asylum came with a $100,000 allocation whereas the university only had a $25,000 allocation.

In the end, Phoenix was awarded the asylum and Tucson was settled with the university. When Stevens returned he was greeted with a shower of ripe eggs, rotten vegetables and a dead cat.

Now, 125 years later the UA is home to 38,000 students and in 2004 the university provides for close to 40,000 jobs and had an economic impact of $2.1 billion — far cry from the original $25,000 — according to reports released by the Office of Economic and Policy Analysis.

“”It started with humble beginnings with three students and one building and look where we are now,”” Provost Meredith Hay said.

To get the university off the ground, the city had to come up with the land, which was donated by two gamblers and a saloonkeeper. It consisted of 40 acres where Old Main sits today.

“”I like the fact that this university got started by gamblers and a saloon keeper,”” UA president Robert Shelton told a crowd that gathered in front of Old Main to celebrate the UA’s 125th birthday Thursday. “”I think in their day, they epitomized the sprit that we call entrepreneurship. They epitomized what we call persistance so we have a lot of history and a lot of personality that we can celebrate because we’re still community of entrepreneurs and risk-takers.””

Classes began in 1891 and consisted of 32 students. Shelton described higher education then as more of a continuation of the same themes that were in high school and didn’t engage in the research that university does today.

Shelton compared the UA’s past struggles to those of today.

“”We just need to get leaders in this state to understand that investing in higher education is an investment in the future. Just as the gamblers and the saloon owner didn’t realize back a 125 years ago,”” Shelton said.

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