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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Likins’ achievements honored in emotional community farewell

    President Emeritus Peter Likins and his wife, Patricia, sit onstage yesterday evening at his farewell dinner in the Student Union Memorial Center North Grand Ballroom. Likins served as president for nine years and plans to remain in Tucson for his retirement.
    President Emeritus Peter Likins and his wife, Patricia, sit onstage yesterday evening at his farewell dinner in the Student Union Memorial Center North Grand Ballroom. Likins served as president for nine years and plans to remain in Tucson for his retirement.

    President Emeritus Peter Likins thanked community members yesterday, especially his wife, who Likins said kept him honest, clear and reminded him of what is important in life.

    “”My mind right now is all about my sense of gratitude, blessing and privilege of service and collaboration with people like you throughout our lives,”” Likins said.

    During his farewell reception yesterday, Likins was honored by students, faculty, administrators and community members from all over Arizona who filled the Student Union Memorial Center North Ballroom.

    Patricia Likins held back tears upon receiving a handmade quilt composed of 97 Arizona T-shirts, which was presented by Peggy Ota, vice president of enrollment management.

    Ota said the quilt represented how comfort and warmth go both ways, and thanked the Likins family for its contributions to diversity at the UA.

    “”People always ask me if we are moving away, and I always respond, ‘Why would we?’ “” Patricia Likins said.

    Fred Boice, president-elect of the Arizona Board of Regents, said that as a former economics major, he would “”stick to the numbers”” as he commended Likins’ achievements.

    During Likins’ nine years as president, state enrollment increased 13 percent, honors student enrollment jumped 9 percent, student aid rose 354 percent, and the average grade point average increased from 3.31 to 3.38, Boice said.

    “”I can see why people would want his job; Pete left the UA in a great state,”” Boice said.

    Likins brought openness to the administration, said Provost George Davis.

    “”You helped us, approximately 37,000, move into uncharted territory and are somebody who draws energy from the challenge, and you never shrink away from it,”” Davis said.

    Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup thanked the Likins family for bettering both the Tucson and UA community and leaving a legacy of profound family values.

    “”We look forward to many years as you continue to be an integral part of the Tucson community,”” Walkup said.

    The ceremony included an original musical guitar and vocal piece, composed by sociology professor Celestino Fernandez and performed in Spanish by UA alumnus Guillermo Saenz.

    The song highlighted Likins’ big heart and joked about his small physical frame.

    The UA Faculty/Staff Choir sang an a capella remake of “”Mr. Sandman,”” which thanked Likins for his time at UA.

    President Robert Shelton said he was honored to succeed a man with a reputation like Likins’ and felt privileged to be on stage with him.

    Likins returned the compliments.

    “”I am more at peace than I have ever been, and that is because we are so happy with the regents’ decision in choosing Robert and Adrian Shelton,”” Likins said.

    A short video displayed interviews with alumni, professors and UA staff describing the impact the Likins family made on them and the UA campus.

    The video credited Likins for his public speeches to students after tragic events, such as Sept. 11, 2001, and the slayings of three UA nurses in 2002.

    During Likins’ presidency, the UA became one of the nation’s top 20 research institutions and increased in minority enrollment.

    Additionally, Likins was a driving force behind the renovation of the Student Union Memorial Center, the addition to the Optical Science building, the improved SALT Center, the Alumni Plaza and the expansion of the UA College of Medicine to Phoenix.

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