The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

74° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA needs strong leader as president

    Welcome to the UA, Ann Weaver Hart. You are visiting what could be a premier educational institution, but is, for now, a school that is struggling to find its footing.

    The UA’s mission is to provide a comprehensive, high-quality education that engages students. The goal is to graduate students who can be leaders in solving complex societal problems.

    The previous administration, headed by Robert Shelton, fought constantly with the backward, misguided ambitions of the Arizona Board of Regents. The regents sought to level the playing field for the state’s three universities, but instead of bringing Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University up to meet the UA’s standards, the board has dragged the UA down.

    ASU is the golden child of the regents for reasons that are laughable. It has increased enrollment each year to astronomical numbers and increased its freshman retention, but did so only by lowering its standards and requirements. The sacred cow is essentially a cash cow.

    The regents will continue to try and steer the UA in this direction, but the faculty, administration and students came here for what was promised to them: a dedication to quality education.

    In addition to the regents, the UA faces adversity from the Arizona Legislature, which refuses to recognize higher education as a top priority. Instead, it cuts millions of dollars in state funding every year and insists on proposing legislation like House Bill 2675, which would demand every full-time student not on a full-ride scholarship to pay $2,000 out of pocket.

    What this university needs is a champion.

    The UA needs a champion who will continue its tradition as the state’s flagship university, its premier research institution. It needs a champion who will halt the steady decline of its standards of admittance and performance. The UA needs a champion who will stand up to a state Legislature hell-bent on applying a broad brushstroke to whitewash educational tradition and differentiation.

    But more than anything, the UA needs a champion to make sure that the administration listens to the people who have constituted the lifeblood of this institution for 126 years and counting.

    The university has often touted its shared governance policies without adhering to them. The only way to maintain the UA’s mission will be to foster communication and an open dialogue with faculty members and students.

    Unfortunately, Shelton and former Provost Meredith Hay burned more than a few bridges, resulting in a faculty vote of no confidence for Hay and of little confidence for Shelton, and a tense relationship between the administration and faculty members.
    Furthermore, the committee that selected you to be the next presidential candidate did not have a single graduate student on board, furthering a sense of exclusion in the decision-making process.

    Each group may have different priorities but the overarching goal is the same — a better UA.

    For years, UA officials have bragged about the ever-increasing diversity in the freshman class, while ignoring the abysmal freshman retention and overall graduation rates. Students cram into classes with more than 1,000 students. Tuition and fees climb each year. The faculty remains largely white and male-dominated.

    The UA strives to excel, but it needs a champion to push for higher standards.

    We need someone who will stand by our mission in the face of budget cuts by legislators and the board of regents’ faulty goals.
    Welcome to the UA. We aren’t perfect, but we’re ready to change.

    — Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Bethany Barnes, Kristina Bui, Steven Kwan, Luke Money and Michelle A. Monroe. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search