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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA an extraordinary university

    UA president
    UA president

    Welcome home to the University of Arizona.

    Whether you are a new or returning student, I hope you consider the UA your home away from home as you pursue your studies.

    And what an extraordinary home it is. So far, 2007 is shaping up to be one for the record books. Let’s start with you, the student body.

    At just under 38,000, you are the largest student body in UA history. You are the most ethnically diverse and the most academically gifted of any Arizona university.

    As you dive into your classes today, know that there are amazing things happening all around you. Your job is to find some of them and experience them for yourself.

    As you read this, a space probe loaded with UA instruments is racing toward Mars in search of the building blocks of life near the Martian north pole. UA scientists, assisted by UA students, are leading the science operations for the Phoenix Mars Scout Mission, making the UA the world’s first public university to lead a mission to Mars.

    And while the Phoenix mission heads for the Martian polar region, tomatoes grown remotely by the UA’s Controlled Environment Agricultural Center are ripening in an enclosed chamber on Earth’s South Pole. The UA is pioneering controlled-environment agriculture, making human existence on places like the South Pole – or the moon – possible.

    While you were gone for the summer, the UA women’s softball team won its eighth national championship. Look for coach Mike Candrea to lead the USA softball team in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

    A thousand more examples of our excellence – though perhaps less glamorous – exist throughout the UA campus. Perhaps what makes it so special is this university’s devotion to discovering new knowledge through research and sharing it with you in your educational experience.

    Whatever path you’ve chosen for yourself here at the UA, you can be sure that hands-on opportunities await you, and they are everywhere. In the College of Science alone, 60 percent of undergraduates are involved in research projects as part of their academic experience.

    Exciting things are happening beyond the College of Science as well, and you have the opportunity to learn from them:

    In psychology, we are discovering how to predict and, more importantly, how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

    In the humanities, we are rethinking and refining how to teach foreign languages, especially those in geopolitical demand.

    Our business students are learning how to take an innovative idea into a real-world application – like transforming a type of blood test into a market-ready tool to fight multiple sclerosis.

    And in medicine, we are making significant advances in everything from cancer to heart disease to childhood illnesses.

    At every turn, UA students – undergraduates, graduate students and professional students – are part of that incredible process of discovery.

    My strongest advice to you is to find an area of scholarship that interests you and get involved in it, because one day you will replace my generation as the world’s researchers, teachers, business executives, health care professionals, poets and community leaders.

    And when you retire ð- probably around 2050 – just imagine the world you will have created. Consider how different today is from the 1950s, and you get the picture.

    Forging a world worthy of passing on to your children will take a lifetime, and as you begin the fall 2007 semester, know that the real journey starts today.

    You could not have chosen a better university in which to begin that journey.

    Robert Shelton is president of the University of Arizona.

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