We have had a busy few weeks at the University of Arizona!
At the beginning of the month, we welcomed the Arizona Board of Regents to campus and had the opportunity to share the progress we have made on Never Settle, our strategic plan. We had plenty to talk about as we recapped the tangible results of our new approach to student engagement, innovation, and partnership. If you would like to see our presentation, I invite you to visit the updated Never Settle website, which also has additional information that demonstrates how we are accomplishing our mission as a super land-grant university.
Part of that mission includes applying our knowledge to make a real impact on global challenges. We also recently welcomed to campus a delegation of extremely committed and enthusiastic representatives from universities across Mexico. Through a partnership between those institutions and the UA, we're working to build and launch an extension system in Mexico.
On a related note, the UA has been selected by the National Autonomous University of Mexico as the site of a branch center focused on collaborative research. This new center is a culmination of a relationship of many years with UNAM in areas ranging from astronomy to arid lands studies. The UNAM Center for Mexican Studies at the UA will be a unique expression of the depth of our relationship with one of Latin America’s premier research institutions.
The UA also just signed an agreement with Dubai EXPO 2020, positioning the UA as the preferred in-house consultant for the next eight years on sustainability issues related to the worldwide forum. Under the agreement, the UA will be a lead consultant and partner for the expo’s master plan, the design and construction of a legacy research arboretum related to desert plants and arid lands, Dubai’s sensor network and data integration as a model smart city, as well as a collaborative global research laboratory on water, climate, and sustainability. As the trade hub for 2.2 billion people (which is only a six-hour plane ride from two-thirds of the world’s population), Dubai is a place where the UA can build a truly global impact through an embedded long-term partnership of the kind we are forming. I am very excited about all that this collaboration will enable and look forward to sharing more news with you as it continues to develop.
The UA commitment to global impact also is reflected in a recent announcement by the Institute of International Education. That organization reported that, among research universities, the UA was one of the top producers of Fulbright Scholars for 2014-15. As you know, the Fulbright Scholar Program each year selects a prestigious group of academics, administrators, and professionals to teach and conduct research abroad. The program gives universities like the UA an opportunity to share their expertise to make a global impact, and also helps promote cross-cultural perspectives on our campuses when those scholars return.
We also are leading the way when it comes to supporting the men and women who pursue higher education upon completion of their service to the nation as veterans. Recently, a team led by Melissa Vito, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success, gave a presentation to the 2015 Veterans Conference held by NASPA, an association for student affairs professionals. The title of the presentation was "Veteran Student Services: Analyzing a National Model and Envisioning the Future."
Finally, I would like to share with you a few more recent rankings:
American City Business Journals placed the UA at No. 79 in a list of the public universities and colleges that offer the best educational experiences to students.
In rankings published by MSN.com and Business Insider, the UA came in at No. 33 among "The 50 Most Underrated Colleges in America." MSN.com cited the UA's 100% Engagement initiative in its ranking.
We are gratified to see the UA's value and quality being recognized in national and global contexts. To learn about other ways in which our impact is being felt, I invite you to read the stories in this month's issue.
The UA Impact Map is a new online tool that demonstrates the University's commitment to serving all of Arizona as the state's land-grant university. With three campuses, 160 telemedicine sites and Cooperative Extension offices in every Arizona county, the UA has a wide-ranging impact beyond its main campus in Tucson. The Impact Map illustrates that fact with county-by-county data on UA students, alumni and employees in Arizona, as well as the number of degrees awarded throughout the state.
When the School of Anthropology held its first classes, the entire University had an enrollment of 463 students. One hundred years later, the school has grown into one of the top anthropology programs in the country and its faculty includes four Regents' Professors, a Distinguished Outreach Professor and a MacArthur Fellow. To celebrate its centennial year, the school has planned multiple special events, including lectures and social occasions for alumni and the general public.
University Distinguished Professor Chris Impey is going where few have gone before. He recently began teaching a free, six-week astronomy course that has an estimated enrollment of about 11,000 people. The new class is the University's first with Coursera, an educational technology company that has been partnering with U.S. colleges and universities since its launch three years ago. Impey's course will consist of video lectures, online quizzes, three projects and three peer-reviewed writing activities.