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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Presidents celebrate one year on, one year off”

    President Robert Shelton took office one year ago, and he’s been getting grilled by the Wildcat ever since. The Arizona Summer Wildcat sat down with Shelton recently to ask him a few lighthearted personal questions.

    Wildcat: How has your life changed in the past year?

    Shelton: I’m much busier, with more evening obligations in addition to the 7 a.m.-7 p.m. work day. The newness factor comes in meeting so many new people and programs, and that’s what you run into the first year, because you just have to learn everything.

    W: What do you miss most about your old job, or your old life?

    S: The one thing I miss is (pause) my daughter was a medical student there and I miss seeing her so often. Of course, you miss all of the great people, but we have never looked back. We had a great five and a half years at Chapel Hill, and we’ve had a very enjoyable first year here.

    W: What do you do for fun?

    S: Sit out at night and look at the stars. I always have a few books going on my nightstand. We like to get outdoors and we like to hike, and that’s where Tucson is just so fabulous. Even if you have half a day, in 15 minutes you can find some great trails in Pima Canyon.

    W: What is the first thought in your head when you wake up?

    S: Exercising. While I’m exercising, during the commercials, which are sometimes longer than the news, I am thinking of what the day is holding but usually I plan out my day the night before.

    W: What is the strangest thing that’s happened to you all year?

    S: There are so many contenders! (laughs) In the fall, I remember going down to a football game and getting to see up close and personal all the students who paint their faces and tummies and are just partying. That was an interesting event, I enjoyed that. There was a new alumni magazine out and it has a curious watercolor of me on the front. I didn’t know about this, and I was over at the alumni meeting and they presented me a frame copied of this, and I thought, this is very thoughtful, but this is kind of weird looking at myself in a watercolor.

    W: What are you most looking forward to next year?

    S: I look forward to everything. I look forward to seeing a new class of students here, whether they are freshmen, graduates or transfer students. I look forward to the new faculty coming on board. We’re going to have a good athletic season, and I look forward to meeting more donors and supporters of the university.

    I look forward to getting a plan to redo the cactus garden and area around my house so that we can entertain even more. We’ve hired one of the doctoral students in architecture and landscape, because I thought, “”If I’m going to pay money, it might as well be to someone from the university.””

    Peter Likins served as president of the UA from 1997-2006. The Wildcat decided to catch up with him and see what he’s been up to since his retirement.

    Wildcat: How has your life changed in the past year?

    Likins: Very, very dramatically. I have really stepped away from university involvement in order to make sure that President Shelton has a free field to act as president without me sitting on the sidelines. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into working out, and I never had time to do that when I was working.

    W: What do you miss most about your old job or your old life?

    L: I don’t miss anything. I have wonderful friendships from that time, and I still see the people who meant so much to me in my time as a President. I’ve always enjoyed the university student-athletes, but I can enjoy it more now that I have more time, so I didn’t give that up, I just gave up the annual struggle for a budget with the Legislature and the hard work.

    W: Now that you are retired, what do you like to do for fun?

    L: What I most appreciate about retirement is the release from responsibility. It’s not release from work because I’m still very busy, working around my house and in the community, but, what I do is what I want to do, not what I have to do. I can decide to put up a birdfeeder if that’s what I want to do. There is freedom.

    W: What is the first thought in your head when you wake up?

    L: When I first wake up, it’s because my dog is saying, “”Take me for a walk,”” and I wake up in the morning to a 45-pound dog nudging me. I don’t have an alarm clock anymore. I have a dog, and she is just as insistent.

    All my life, I’ve been driven by responsibility, and now for the first time in my life I’m not driven by responsibilities, I’m driven by what I want to do with my life, and it’s really quite beautiful. By nature, I’m a self-critical person. You can’t work as hard as I’ve worked without having the feeling that you’re not good enough, giving it more and more, and now for the first time in my life I feel like now it’s fair to take care of myself and the people that I love. It’s a beautiful feeling.

    W: What is the strangest thing that happened to you in your time as president?

    L: The weirdest thing was to read “”Ripley’s Believe It or Not”” and see a picture of me with the announcement, “”Believe it or not, a wrestler has become a university president.”” I used to wrestle as a kid, and it was important to me, and I never thought I would read about myself in “”Ripley’s Believe It or Not.””

    W: What are you most excited for in the next year?

    L: All of my work life I have never been a person to plan my life. I never planned the next job, or next phase of my life, and when I announced that I was retiring, a lot of people said, “”What are you going to do next,”” and I said, “”Gee, I’m going to do whatever I feel like.”” And that’s where I’m still at. I’m not going to plan the next year, but I hope it holds good health and happiness with my wife in doing whatever we together feel like doing.

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