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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Students shadow Likins for charity

    For a man of relatively modest stature, President Peter Likins casts a big shadow. Two Tucson students had the opportunity to see this firsthand when they spent a morning “”shadowing”” Likins as part of a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy.

    Casey Wang-Martin, a senior at Tucson High School, and Michael Miller, a biochemistry senior, spent Friday morning with Likins as part of the Groundhog Shadow Day program, which benefits Muscular Dystrophy research.

    Miller said he jumped at the opportunity to meet Likins.

    “”Being a student, you see him around, but you don’t really interact with him,”” Miller said.

    The students had the opportunity to speak with Likins one-on-one and observe as he gave interviews with the press, met with faculty and spoke at a town-hall meeting.

    However, Likins pointed out to Miller and Wang-Martin that it was not an entirely typical day because they were seeing only the public aspects of his job.

    “”A more typical day involves meetings to hammer out the budget, working out personnel issues, things you normally wouldn’t be allowed to hear,”” Likins explained.

    Likins showed Wang-Martin and Miller around his office, explaining the stories behind the pictures and artifacts adorning the walls and shelves.

    Some of the pictures included Likins hoisting a cheerleader on his shoulders, holding the Stanley Cup and posing with the late Arizona women’s basketball player, Shawntinice Polk.

    Miller said one of the highlights of the day was Likins explaining an 8-foot parking garage barrier that leans against the wall in one corner of his office.

    Likins said during his last year as the president of Lehigh University, he broke off the barrier because the ticket reader had gotten jammed, there was a line of cars and the arm wouldn’t lift.

    “”I tried to call the campus police, but there was no reception, so I broke the damn thing off and started collecting the $2 fees,”” he said. “”Later on, a couple of my friends at Lehigh took note of my violent departure and gave it to me.””

    He said he used it the next year as a prop in his commencement address at the UA.

    “”When I gave the commencement address it was all about breaking barriers,”” he said. “”So I picked up the board and held it over my head.””

    Wang-Martin and Miller said they were impressed by Likins’ management of his busy schedule.

    “”One thing that was really amazing was, for example, he was talking to the reporter at 100 mph on athletics, then he switched to 100 mph on women’s equality on campus and then switched to 100 mph at the town-hall meeting,”” Miller said. “”His mental stamina is really amazing.””

    Wang-Martin said she enjoyed observing the meetings but preferred talking with Likins on a personal level, especially because she plans to attend the university in the fall.

    “”I wanted to talk to him about any advice he had for my future and the things I want to do,”” she said.

    Likins was asked to participate in the Groundhog Shadow Day by Wang-Martin’s father and the program’s driving force, Don Martin.

    Martin started the Groundhog Shadow program with a goal of raising $100,000 to research Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease his son, Wang-Martin’s younger brother, was diagnosed with.

    Through the program, public figures volunteer a day to serve as a mentor and for $1,000, donors can pick someone to shadow them. Mayor Bob Walkup is included among past participants.

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