October Friends of UA




Dear Friend of UA, I hope this past month has gone well for you, and I hope you are as excited as I am for the onset of fall.

October 15, 2015



Dear Friend of UA,


I hope this past month has gone well for you, and I hope you are as excited as I am for the onset of fall. The UA just held Family Weekend, which was a wonderful opportunity to meet parents and friends of current students. Now Homecoming is just around the corner, and I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with alumni. These weekends are great moments to hear the success stories of students and graduates and to remember the positive impact that the UA family has through world-class education and research.


Extending this impact is why the UA has invested heavily in engaging our students over the past several years. We have been incredibly fortunate to have the support of many dedicated friends and alumni in that effort. One recent example is the incredible generosity of Philip and Kathe Gust, UA alumni who committed $3 million from their estate to support graduate student fieldwork in anthropology, which is a crucial element of scholarly and scientific advancement in that field. Another example is the $5 million gift from Patricia and Bruce Bartlett to support student success. The Bartletts have already made transformative contributions to the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center on campus, and their new gift will go towards renovating the SALT Center's home, as well as towards creating new learning spaces centered on interactive student learning.


Like other new collaborative learning spaces on campus, the facilities that emerge through the Bartletts' generosity will support the UA's emphasis on new ways of teaching and learning that engage students and encourage their active involvement in the learning process. A major part of our role as educators is to give students the tools to deal with the complexity of our world and help them learn to use those tools in a variety of settings. This need is a major reason why many schools and instructors have begun to shift their approach in teaching from a lecture-based model to one that is more interactive and that depends more on students' involvement.


For instance, a team of instructional specialists, academic and administrative leaders, and faculty members is studying the redesign of several introductory-level courses in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields at the UA. These courses are shifting from lecture-based models where students spend most of their time listening to other approaches in which they actively address challenges using new knowledge and principles, encouraging not only better retention but also building the critical cognitive skill of applying information to the specifics of a problem or situation. By studying the outcomes of these new classes to better understand the impact of the changes being made by faculty, the UA will be more able to encourage similar approaches in other classes across campus.


Another crucial example of this kind of teaching is at the heart of the UA's new program in Veterinary Medicine, to be housed at the UA Oro Valley campus alongside the One Health initiative. Both programs are innovative new approaches to the UA's land-grant mission and I am very excited to see their contributions to our state's future. You can read more about them in this month's insert.


These developments in teaching and learning techniques are one example of how the distinct synergy of research and teaching that defines a public research university like the UA is so beneficial and so important to our society. My most recent blog post discusses these issues in more depth, and I encourage you to read it to find out the many ways that the UA is actively engaging our future leaders in immersive educational experiences.


Thank you for your continued support.




Ann Weaver Hart
University of Arizona





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