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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


President Robert Shelton delivers State of the University address in Phoenix

Phoenix — UA President Robert Shelton discussed and defended the UA’s Phoenix expansion at his State of the University Address on Wednesday.

This is the first time a UA president has delivered the State of the University Address in Phoenix.

Shelton spoke to about 400 alumni, donors, public officials and supporters. The address was held in Phoenix to accommodate the growing UA presence in Maricopa County.

Representatives from several colleges including the UA College of Medicine, the UA Eller College of Management and the UA Honors College attended.

“”We’re trying to make sure we’re connecting with our Maricopa County constituents, so we put together a table,”” said David Scott Allen, director of development for the UA Honors College.

Shelton described the UA’s founding 125 years ago.

“”At the groundbreaking for Old Main the honorable C.C. Stevens, who was Pima County’s representative to the 13th legislature said this, ‘The world may forget its heroes, but shall remember its teachers,'”” Shelton said.

He added, while the UA was founded on 40 acres in Tucson, it has also had a prominent physical presence in Phoenix from the earliest years.

“”In 1887 … the very first permanent director recommended that experiment stations be founded not only in Tucson, but also in Yuma, Phoenix and Tempe,”” Shelton said.

He talked about the financial implications and how even in the best of times, the university’s expansion to Phoenix would be difficult.

“”Even if we weren’t in the midst of a recession, there would still be those who would yell ‘Stop,'”” Shelton said. “”Sadly there are always some in any community who just can’t bring themselves to envision the possibilities of a brighter tomorrow. The singular objective of these naysayers seems to be blocking those who dare dream of something better.”” 

He shared an anecdote about a patent officer who quit because he said everything that could ever be invented already existed.

Shelton told the story as a parallel to discussion about the recent funding cuts.

“”The tragedy of all of this is that (it) doesn’t actually take very much to restore funding the University of Arizona has lost. It would cost about $15 per Arizonan per year,”” Shelton said. “”So the question we have to answer as a state is should we threaten our future to save a buck a month.”” 

Although the university’s budget has been cut, Shelton pointed out that the UA has received $84 million in competitive stimulus funds and has raked in $600 million in research grants.

“”The future success of this state depends on the success of the University of Arizona and our mission to foster access, quality and discovery,”” Shelton said.

Some audience members thought success depended on the state government’s support.

“”I just wish our legislators were visionaries,”” said Emerson Smith, the chair of the guidance department at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The UA has expanded to Phoenix at a rapid rate in recent years.

Maricopa County houses the UA cooperative extension office, which offers training for travel care professionals through John and Dorris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, along with food safety and classes in grandparenting.

“”Most recently we’ve partnered with Maricopa Community Colleges to establish two-plus-two programs and have identified 14 UA degree areas of critical importance to this district,”” Shelton said. “”We are focusing on Chandler and Paradise Valley for physical delivery of what we hope will be lower-cost, more readily available UA degrees here in Maricopa County.””

The two-plus-two program is a partnership between the UA and Maricopa Community Colleges where students can complete their first two years towards a bachelor’s degree at a community college in Maricopa County and the remaining two years at a UA campus.

The UA will receive five years of rent-free laboratory space at a facility in Chandler and 10 years rent-free for instruction space. Management information systems and optical programs will be offered by the UA in Chandler next  year, according to Shelton.

“”Paradise Valley articulation is focused not only on high access programs such as retail and consumer finance, family studies and human development, but also in collaborative laboratory experiences in the life sciences programs,”” Shelton said.

He said the university’s biggest impact and the thing that will have the most “”profound impact on this community and this state”” is in bio technology and medical education at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

He discussed the new Phoenix medical center and helping Arizonans have enough physicians to “”get the care you expect, and you need.”” 

“”The college of medicine in Phoenix is critical to meeting that demand,”” Shelton said. “”Let me tell you that already we’ve had great success. We’ve been able to put together very quickly a faculty and staff to launch the school. We received accreditation in record time, indeed even before the first class even began their studies. The first cohort of students passed the first board exams at near perfect rates, and much higher than the national average.””

He also talked about the UA’s new Cancer Center in Phoenix, which will be larger than its counterpart in Tucson.

“”Five years from now, we anticipate that the Cancer Center here in Phoenix will serve 64,000 patients,”” Shelton said.


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