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Welcome to the University of Arizona Safe Cats blogging site. This site is specifically designed and created to address the culture of safety and promote a safe campus community. Please provide thoughts or feedback to any issues you see on or off campus relating to the student, staff, and faculty population. This is a safe campus community and we are interested in seeing what you think.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome from President Shelton

To: Campus Community
From: Robert N. Shelton
Subject: Fall 2010 Welcome

I write to extend a very warm welcome to everyone on campus as we begin the new academic year. It is great to have all our faculty, staff, appointed professionals and students back in place for what we expect will be a great year for the University of Arizona.

For the fourth consecutive year, we begin the fall semester with a record freshman enrollment - it will come in at slightly over 7,000 students. In addition to being the largest freshman class in history, it is once again our most diverse. While we won’t have the final numbers for a few weeks, preliminary figures place the total minority enrollment at 38%, up from 34.2% last year, and 30.7% the year before. In just five years we’ve seen the Hispanic freshman class double in size. This is a great success story, and one that reflects our deep commitment to access and diversity at UA.

As I have traveled around the state this summer promoting the University, I was amazed by the number of people who went out of their way to offer compliments regarding our staff, faculty and students. From parents who had concerns about their incoming freshmen children, I heard praise for the accessibility and supportive manner of our staff. From students who needed some additional academic guidance, I heard about faculty who went out of their way to give tours, discuss career paths, or who worked diligently to ensure that students got necessary class assistance. From community members who found themselves on campus for summer events, I heard over and over how beautiful they thought the campus was, and how helpful students and staff were in welcoming them to events. And from everyone exposed to orientation, I got nothing but rave reviews about content, tone and the personal touch they felt.

My point in mentioning all this is that our people, whatever their role at UA, present a marvelous “face” to the public, and their doing so has a huge impact on how we are perceived and ultimately supported. Despite a harrowing economic crisis that has put huge budget pressures on the University, the people who make up UA continue to exhibit a commitment and passion that is truly inspiring, and I want to thank all of you for this determined effort to make the UA experience unique and meaningful to our students and everyone else whom we serve.

This fall we will conclude our accreditation review by the North Central Association. The accreditation process affords an important opportunity to reflect on where we are and where we are headed in the coming years. The UA team that was charged with demonstrating our worthiness for accreditation was headed by Beth Mitchneck and Randy Richardson; they have done a superb job of chronicling the accomplishments of the University, while also helping us understand those places where we need to do more.

The NCA review team will be on campus in early December, and will spend a good deal of time chatting with people across the whole University about the relevance and importance of the process. If you are presented with the chance to speak to them, I hope you will use it to thank the review team for their hard work and acknowledge the importance and value to UA of the whole accreditation review. I urge you to familiarize yourself with our self-study report that will be available through the university’s web page by the end of September.

Since the end of the last academic year, we had very good news from the ballot box. Against long odds, the people of Arizona went to the polls in large numbers and voted by a two-to-one margin to approve a one-cent increase in the sales tax – via Proposition 100 – to help shore up funding for education in our state. That vote flew in the face of stereotypes that many like to use to portray our state, and it spoke to the value that Arizona taxpayers place on education and the role it plays in shaping our state’s future.

Had Proposition 100 failed, the University of Arizona was facing an additional $42 million budget cut on top of $100 million in cuts already taken. It would have been devastating. Arizona voters recognized that. In a period of challenging economics, deep budget cuts and seemingly endless political acrimony, the people of this state made an important statement. For that we are truly thankful.

Later this fall we will be playing at home against our football arch rival ASU. But there is a slight change to that game that everyone on campus will need to be aware of. Rather than a Saturday evening, the game will be played on Thursday, December 2 at 6 p.m.

This game will be nationally telecast on ESPN and will reach millions of people across the country affording a tremendous opportunity to show off our campus and garner exposure to a great range of University programs and accomplishments (in addition to generating significant and much needed revenue for Intercollegiate Athletics). This visibility will give us the opportunity to be gracious hosts to all who visit the campus for this event. That’s the good news. The bad news (if you can call it that) is that we will have nearly 60,000 people descending on campus that afternoon (many during the height of rush hour) and that will inevitably lead to some challenging situations with traffic and parking.

A team has already been assembled to look at the parking options for game day and a memo with their specific recommendations will be distributed shortly. It will no doubt require some accommodations (and some disruption to normal routines) on that day, which is why I wanted to bring it to your attention early so that we can provide the maximum amount of time to plan for the game’s impact. We will get the specific details on parking and transportation changes out to you as soon as possible.

I hope this year will be successful and rewarding. And I thank you for your commitment to making the University of Arizona the great institution that it is.

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