May 2014 Friends of UA
Dear Friend of UA,
On Saturday, May 17, the University of Arizona will celebrate the academic achievement of approximately 6,000 students at our 2014 Commencement. These graduates will go on to be leaders in our communities and in industries vital to our state’s future.
Commencement is one of my favorite moments of the year because it provides the opportunity to congratulate our students for all their hard work and to see firsthand the joy and pride that their friends and families have for them. Our commencement celebration proclaims loudly that we are deeply proud of our students’ achievements and that we are in awe of the promise that they embody after a UA education.
This combined community value and individual achievement makes access to the high quality education provided by research universities, like the UA, so vital for our society. To ensure this access—a critical part of our core mission—the UA is focused on partnering with our students, their families, and with community colleges to create a pipeline of access and an environment for success once students arrive on our campus. Examples of how we’re achieving these goals include:
- Our guaranteed tuition plan, which provides families a stable means to plan for the cost of a UA education;
- The New Start summer bridge program, which engages students in academic classes, college readiness workshops, peer mentoring and other activities to help prepare them for success, before they begin classes;
- The THINK TANK, which provides tutoring services, supplemental instruction and academic skills support to students during the school year; and,
- The Degree Tracker, which allows students to understand degree requirements as they register and take courses each semester, and it provides a vital tool for academic advisors and student affairs professionals to intervene when students need assistance.
With these and other programs in place, student retention figures at the UA have improved dramatically over the past year, with freshman-to-sophomore retention rates for minorities passing 80 percent for the first time and the figure for all students at 81.5 percent.
These retention rates are important not only for individual students and their families, but because of what they signify for Arizona: highly employable graduates who will meet our state’s workforce needs in vital areas like health care, science, technology and agriculture.
Through the UA’s 100% Student Engagement initiative, each of our students will experience the process of applying classroom and laboratory knowledge in real-world settings. A centralized clearinghouse located in Career Services will help students secure these opportunities based on their academic programs. Further, students’ transcripts will reflect completion of their engagement activity as a hallmark of a UA education and signal that they are ready to be leaders in their fields once they enter the workforce. We profile two examples of how these engagement opportunities are working at the UA in this month’s insert.
The 100% Student Engagement initiative will build on our strengths in interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching here at the University of Arizona to meet the needs of Arizona’s workforce, its communities, and its citizens in the years to come.
We have a lot to be proud of as the school year comes to a close, especially our newly minted graduates! Congratulations to our new Wildcats for Life!
Ann Weaver Hart
University of Arizona