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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA first ladies play vital roles

    Adrian Shelton, wife of UA President Robert Shelton, assumes an important role in the universitys daily activities. Currently, she said she is still adjusting to life in the Tucson community.
    Adrian Shelton, wife of UA President Robert Shelton, assumes an important role in the university’s daily activities. Currently, she said she is still adjusting to life in the Tucson community.

    This Presidents Day, as Americans across the country honor various presidents, university presidents will honorother people – their spouses.

    From making sure the bills are paid at home to becoming active members of the university faculty and community to maintaining their professions, spouses of UA presidents, past and present, assume different, yet equally important, roles.

    “”Generations ago, university presidents were all males, and spouses assumed careers of being the president’s wife,”” said former UA president Peter Likins. “”Now, presidents are women and their husbands are their spouses, so they play a different relationship than the woman that preceded them.””

    In her inaugural year at the UA, first lady Adrian Shelton said she is adjusting to her new life in Tucson, giving herself time to understand the community and to find the best way to get involved.

    “”Tucson is filled with wonderful people. … Everyone has been so warm, welcoming and unpretentious, and that’s what I’ve most appreciated.””
    – Adrian Shelton, UA’s first lady

    “”I am waiting for one year to decide what endeavors to invest in,”” Adrian said. “”I feel very fortunate that because of the connection to the UA, we can see what’s available to do, but I have a strong sense to think of capability.””

    At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where the Sheltons previously lived and worked, Adrian became an active member of the faculty as a research compliance officer in the Office of University Council, a position she still holds.

    “”We are in the middle of a national search for my successor and that will enable me to think about life – focusing more locally,”” she said.

    But with her husband in the position that he is, it is not possible for her to become a UA faculty member, Adrian said.

    “”I would love to be able to contribute to the UA in that way, but it’s not practical because I can’t report to someone who is not Robert,”” she joked.

    Other spouses to UA presidents, such as Patricia Likins, chose a different role as first lady by ensuring things were running smoothly at home while also attending various functions on and around campus.

    “”I served for 24 years and, at various stages, my wife was raising six kids,”” Peter Likins said. “”I am sure there are presidents’ wives that feel they need to be with him four nights a week, but I have always thought that my wife had a life of her own and I should not impose another life on her.””

    As he traveled and worked around the clock, Likins said the role his wife took as first lady provided him with an opportunity to rest. He also had peace of mind that things at home were going smoothly.

    “”The job is 24/7 and can be very emotionally taxing because you are constantly trying to please everyone, so it’s very important to have a solid home base,”” Likins said. “”That is the role my wife played, managing the family finances because I was too busy of taking care of the business of maintaining a household. When I was working, she did everything — she bought my clothes; I mean, she did everything.””

    July will mark the one-year anniversary of the Sheltons’ arrival at the UA, and Adrian gave herself until then to decide what careers or hobbies to pursue in Tucson. In the meantime, she is enjoying the weather, people and scenery of the Old Pueblo, she said.

    “”Tucson is filled with wonderful people, and I never drive toward the mountains and don’t think, ‘This is so beautiful,'”” she said. “”Everyone has been so warm, welcoming and unpretentious, and that’s what I’ve most appreciated.””

    Still, the title of “”UA first lady”” is not one that she is used to.

    “”It’s a term that I’m not fully accustomed to, but I am very much enjoying my life at the UA,”” she said. “”We so appreciate the generous welcome from everyone. It has made the transition so smooth.””

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