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Hart shares her expectations for her remaining time at UA

Tom Price
UA President Ann Weaver Hart in her office inside Old Main on Wednesday, April 27. Hart recently announced she will not be asking the Arizona Board of Regents to extend her contract in 2018.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart announced she will not be asking the Arizona Board of Regents to renew her contract as president of the UA, via an employee-wide email and a regent’s press release on Friday, June 10.

“I have always believed that women and men of good will can disagree on a number of issues and still work together with vigor for a common purpose. That purpose would be the success of the University of Arizona and everyone who studies and works here,” Hart said in an email interview.

RELATED: ‘Have a Hart? Ours is at DeVry’

Hart’s contract doesn’t end until 2018, leaving the board two years to find a qualified applicant to take her place.

“I have always planned to assure that the UA gets the benefit of a careful and measured presidential succession that does honor to the incredibly talented people who work and lead here,” Hart said.

Michael Finnegan, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said Hart has accomplished a lot for the university, and just because she’s leaving doesn’t mean she’s not going to enact change or fight for students.

“When it comes to picking a new president, it will be really cool to see who’s going to be coming next and how a new president can address the issues that have been hot topics in the last few years,” Finnegan said. “We’re just going to see how much student involvement we can get in the process—hopefully more than ever before.”

RELATED: Professor starts petition requesting Hart to leave DeVry

Hart said the regents are in control of the selection process, as well as who will be involved and when.

The regents expect to conduct their comprehensive nation-wide search for her successor sometime in the fall, according to their Friday press release.

“I made clear to them during our private conversations over the past several months that my desire is to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to be thoughtful and measured while planning during the 2017-2018 academic year,” Hart said. “This also will give those doing the search the maximum opportunity to talk to a wide variety of potential candidates.”

In early March, Hart accepted a $70,000 position on the DeVry University board, DeVry is a for-profit college that is currently being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly deceiving consumers about the value of a DeVry degree.

Since accepting, Hart has received heavy national backlash that has sparked petitions and protests questioning her commitment to UA.

“Service on private boards has been a part of the professional life and expanded knowledge of university presidents’ lives for decades in the U.S.,” Hart said in her email. “This particular board service became controversial in California and then in Arizona, but I had begun planning for this transition months before, so it played no role.”

Hart said her plan is to throw herself fully into academia and become more involved in other boards and organizations after she is no longer president. Adding that she has already begun the process by talking to leadership at the UA Center for the Study of Higher Education.

RELATED: TIMELINE: President Hart’s involvement with DeVry in news stories

“This decision gives me the freedom to focus like a laser and work with the leaders within the university and the Arizona Board of Regents to complete or substantially complete many wonderful initiatives,” Hart said in her email, referring to her current plans and projects already in motion.

Hart said that if she had to be involved in contract extension negotiations she would not have the opportunity to focus or be honest about her own professional aspirations.

Hart’s email said she has four key priorities to accomplish:

  • Complete the major changes encompassed in the Never Settle Academic Plan
  • Shape a new vision and renewal for the UA honors program
  • Solidify and strengthen the Academic Affiliation Agreement with Banner Health University Medical Center while maximizing the growth and quality of each of our two medical schools
  • Complete the Arizona new $1.5 billion fundraising campaign, setting the stage for the success of the new president in advancing philanthropy at the UA.

Hart said UA’s future holds a bright prospect of excellence and leadership.

As far as the timing of when a new president would start and whether or not Hart will complete her contract, Hart said that it will depend on what’s best for the institution.

“With a carefully planned process and the new president identified, final decisions can be made about the best process that respects the new president’s need to finalize existing commitments, while preparing the most orderly and productive hand-off here at the university,” Hart’s said.

  • Editor’s note: All interviews done with President Hart were conducted over Email.

Follow Chastity Laskey and Brenna Bailey on Twitter. 

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