The excitement that has been building this week across the University of Arizona campus culminated tonight as we celebrated the Class of 2016 at Commencement. Degrees were conferred upon nearly 6,000 Wildcats who have earned bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees.
Making this event even more special was the honor of having U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy as our keynote speaker. Family members who were unable to join their grads in person, and UA friends who wanted to share the experience from afar, were able to join virtually by watching C-SPAN's televised broadcast of Dr. Murthy's address.
Spring is also when we name outstanding faculty who are being recognized for their scholarship, their commitment to teaching, and their outreach efforts. Three UA professors have just been named Regents' Professor, the highest honor given to faculty in Arizona's public university system: Ronald Breiger, professor of sociology in the School of Sociology, Frank Gohlke, a professor in the photography division at the School of Art, and Renu Malhotra, the Louise Foucar Marshall Science Research Professor in the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. They are joined by two new University Distinguished Professors: Elliott Cheu, professor of physics, and Alan Nighorn, professor of neuroscience. Finally, we have two new University Distinguished Outreach Faculty: Thomas Sheridan, a research anthropologist at the Southwest Studies Center and professor of anthropology, and Cynthia Thomson, director of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health's Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion.
We have also recently showcased a few of our outstanding research facilities as part of the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an activity organized and hosted by the Arizona Commerce Authority. More than 50 international leaders in economic development from 24 countries participated in a six-day tour, which included stops at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, Biosphere 2, and the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab.
Finally, I would like to share a few items of note from the health sciences:
The College of Medicine – Tucson has made two keys appointments: Dr. Charles B. Cairns is now the College's permanent dean, and Dr. Lawrence J. Mandarino has been appointed head of the Center for Disparities in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.
The College of Medicine – Phoenix has produced a compelling video that illustrates the ways in which the College champions diversity, a core value central to its mission. You can watch the video here.
Thank you for reading, and for your partnership and support.
"Beyond the Mirage: The Future of Water in the West" is a compelling documentary that examines water shortages in the desert cities of Arizona, California and Nevada. In the film, UA water experts offer insights into new technologies – and challenge old ideas through interwoven stories that connect the Colorado snowpack to the lights of Las Vegas. The UA-produced documentary premiered in Tucson last month and will be aired in Phoenix on KAET 8 beginning Monday.
Communities in rural and Southern Arizona have a critical need for teachers, especially in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, math and engineering. To help meet that need, UA South has launched a program that offers scholarships to recent college graduates, as well as professionals looking for a career change, interested in pursuing a Master of Education in Secondary Education. UA South has partnered with Biosphere 2 and Cochise College on the effort.
A music instruction program that pairs UA students with children ages 5 through 12 has been revived thanks to a gift of $100,000 from an anonymous donor. The String Project provides free, immersive music lessons to children while giving hands-on experience to UA music students planning to work in public schools. Research shows that exposure to the arts – and learning to play a musical instrument – encourages the kind of creativity that transfers to other disciplines, such as math, science and social studies.