|FROM:||President Ann Weaver Hart|
|DATE:||Friday, July 11, 2014|
Thank you all for an exceptional year here at the University of Arizona. I hope that many of you were able to attend this year’s commencement ceremony. Commencement is one of my favorite moments of the year because it is an opportunity to celebrate our students’ success that comes from your hard work and dedication to the University’s mission. The ceremony also recognizes the value and potential that we create as a community of learning and that is the primary focus of our Never Settle academic and business plan. With this in mind I want to give you an update on our progress over the past several months.
At the Arizona NOW campaign kickoff, which I wrote to you about in April, we heard the inspiring stories of four of our students whose success provides wonderful examples of the importance of our 100% engagement initiative. We heard from Dana Dobbins, Stephanie Kha, Morgan Abraham and journalism senior Amer Taleb, who interned with CNN and the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, held a staff position at the UA’s Daily Wildcat, participated in the New York Times summer institute in our school of journalism, and traveled to Japan to study with local media outlets.
Amer deserves great credit for all of the hard work that has led him to this point, as do the other students who spoke at the luncheon. One of our critical efforts is to ensure that all UA students have these kinds of opportunities, and I am pleased to let you know that Vin Del Casino is joining the area of Academic Initiatives and Student Success/Student Affairs and Enrollment Management as Vice Provost for Digital Learning and Student Engagement. Through his leadership, teams are already in place to more fully develop the 100% Engagement Program. Resources are now available to not only strengthen the clearinghouse role that Career Services will provide to both students and faculty, but to also provide critical support to academic departments and colleges to implement and strengthen engagement initiatives in the college. Vice Provost Del Casino is working to implement a full Engagement program on campus with pre-qualified experiences, engagement success colloquia and enhanced opportunities in partnership with local, regional and national employers. We are also establishing a Signature Graduation with Engagement designation for the UA transcript, which will reflect completion of these engagement activities as a hallmark of UA degrees.
As we move forward with these and other strategic initiatives, we face ongoing financial challenges with the state appropriations that passed the Arizona legislature this year, but we are adapting the business plan and moving forward so that the UA can achieve its academic goals.
The Arizona NOW campaign will be critical to our success, as will other partnership efforts that allow the UA to work with peer institutions, businesses and governments across the world to achieve our mutual goals. Over the past several months I have been working to build these partnerships: in March, I travelled to the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile where the UA and our partner institutions in the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization are building what will be the world’s most sensitive ground-based telescope; in April and early May, I met with members of Arizona’s congressional delegation for very productive conversations about the state of higher education in Arizona and its importance for research innovation and workforce development. I also testified at a field hearing for the U.S. House Higher Education and Workforce Committee, travelled to Nogales to build alumni and business partnerships in Southern Arizona, and met with Governor Brewer and her staff to discuss ways that the UA and the state government can work together for the good of our students and their families. Finally, just two weeks ago we signed the historic agreement with Banner Health. This agreement will help drive the future of health sciences research and clinical practice in Arizona and transform the UA’s Colleges of Medicine and the entire Arizona Health Sciences Center into a globally-leading site of innovation and discovery.
Lastly, as most of you will know from previous announcements, the UA’s leadership team is nearly complete. With the hiring of Jon Dudas as Senior Associate to the President and Secretary of the University we have an effective advocate who will work with ABOR, state government and partners throughout Arizona to advance the University’s goals. Along with Barbara Bryson as Vice President for Strategic Planning and Analysis, Kimberly Espy as Senior Vice President for Research, UA Police Chief Brian Seastone and other executive searches that are nearing completion, we have a strong foundation for a bright future and I am looking forward to the impact that they will have as we continue to pursue the goals of Never Settle.