Over the coming weeks, our elected representatives in the Arizona Legislature will be considering the state budget for the next fiscal year, including funding for the three state universities. Over the past few weeks, I gave presentations on this issue to the appropriations committees in the Senate and House and the House Government and Higher Education Committee. I emphasized the University of Arizona's success in providing a high quality, low cost education and our commitment to sustaining that model of excellence and access.
I was heartened to see this same priority reflected in Governor Ducey's state budget recommendations for fiscal year 2017. By adopting the formula proposed by the Arizona Board of Regents and supported by all three state universities, which asks that the state base its support for higher education on funding Arizona students, Governor Ducey has recognized that investing in higher education will result in more jobs, higher salaries, and a healthier state economy.
The value of a University of Arizona education has been recognized nationally as well. The most recent example is the 2016 edition of The Princeton Review's "Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck." The UA was ranked among the nation's top colleges and universities for students seeking a superb education, with great career preparation, at an affordable price. Another recent accolade came from U.S. News & World Report, which placed the UA College of Nursing at No. 23 on its list of the best online graduate nursing programs.
We also received wonderful news late last week that the UA's College of Medicine – Phoenix has advanced to provisional accreditation after a vote by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). This is an important step that keeps the College on path towards full accreditation in 2018. Like the rest of the UA Health Sciences, the College of Medicine – Phoenix has a bright future and I am looking forward to its continuing service to our state and its citizens.
Another piece of exciting news comes from Arizona Athletics, which has been making steady progress in student-athlete performance in the classroom. A total of 242 of around 500 student-athletes earned a fall semester GPA of 3.0 or better, while 123 earned 3.5 or better. Both are the highest on record at the UA.
The UA also remains committed to programs that share the knowledge created by UA faculty in our wider state community. For instance, in recent issues I mentioned the highly popular College of Science lecture series, which draws hundreds of people to campus to hear UA scholars speak on current topics in science. The College also offers opportunities for smaller gatherings called Science Cafés in which members of the community can actively engage with UA faculty members and graduate students. The conversations happen at four locations around Tucson, with a different theme for each location. The topics currently being explored include how drugs affect the brain, the complex lives of insects, and the concept of time. To find out more, click here.
Finally, I am excited to share that the UA's new Office of Student Engagement officially opened its doors earlier this week. Located in the Student Union, the office is the central hub for 100% Engagement, a place where students can explore and take advantage of opportunities for real-world experience before they graduate. The office will help ensure that UA students remain among the world's best prepared graduates when they enter the workforce or go on to further education and I am excited to see all that it will accomplish.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support of the University of Arizona.
An effort to teach potential farmers in Arizona how to sustain an easy-to-grow and nutritious crop is mushrooming. Supported in part by an Arizona Department of Agriculture grant, UA Cooperative Extension specialists are teaching a new public workshop on how to grow edible mushrooms, one of the more lucrative crops in the U.S. The community can see how easy they are to grow at Tucson Village Farm, where the mushroom shed is cooled by a solar-powered evaporative cooler and the fungi are watered with a misting system that uses collected rainwater.
Tech Launch Arizona has been selected for a National Science Foundation initiative that will provide $100,000 a year to help move innovative UA research toward commercialization. The initiative is called NSF Innovation Corps, which focuses on identifying intellectual property with the greatest potential for social and economic impact and then moving it toward commercialization. As an I-Corps site, the UA joins a prestigious group of institutions, including Purdue University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University.
The Center for Rural Health at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health has been awarded a $1.5 million grant to provide training and information to 14 Arizona hospitals, 21 rural Arizona health clinics, and a statewide network of primary care, trauma and EMS workers. Together, those services play crucial roles in assuring access to quality health care, improving population health outcomes and contributing to a community's overall economic health and development.