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Welcome back Wildcats: Here's what you missed this summer

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Courtney Talak | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona offensive lineman Zach Hemmila rests at football practice on Friday, Aug. 5. Coach Rich Rodriguez announced Hemmila's death on Monday, Aug. 8 after the team's morning practice.

It was a busy summer for the UA. Here’s what you may have missed.

Presidential search

On June 10, UA President Ann Weaver Hart announced that she would not be asking the Arizona Board of Regents to renew her contract when it ends in 2018, via an employee-wide email and a regent’s press release.

This announcement came after Hart received heavy backlash in the spring, both locally and around the nation, for accepting a $70,000 position on the DeVry University Board. The for-profit college is being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly deceiving consumers about the value of a DeVry degree.

Hart has denied that the DeVry controversy had any weight in her decision to step down and is calling the move “a natural choice.”

This leaves the board with a little under two years to find a qualified applicant to take her place, a process the regents have already begun.

The board recently named regents Bill Ridenour and Ron Shoopman as the chair and vice chair of the committee for the next UA president. The board is in the process of filling out the rest of the search committee with external members.

The regents have said they want to keep the search process public and have created a page on their website dedicated to UA presidential search news and updates.

RELATED: ABOR’s presidential search progresses

Death of UA football player Zach Hemmila

The UA experienced an unexpected tragedy during fall football camp this year with the premature death of senior offensive lineman Zach Hemmila.

Hemmila passed away in his sleep on Aug. 7 at the age of 22. He was an Arizona native and Chandler High School graduate.

Hemmila was expected to be the starting center on this year’s team, in addition to being one of only four seniors left from the 2012 recruiting class.Teammates, coaches, family and friends paid their respects to Hemmila on Aug. 11 during a viewing.

RELATED: Arizona lineman Zach Hemmila dies in his sleep at age 22

Health Sciences spending under investigation

After the Arizona Republic wrote an article detailing Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia’s travel expenses, his leadership and spending came under scrutiny.

Regent’s President Eileen Klein opened the second medical college meeting by saying action may need to be taken outside of those meetings to address the questions and concerns of UA Health Sciences public money use.

At the meeting, Garcia received support in the call to audience where many members of the public and UA community stated their confidence in Garcia and his leadership.

Garcia later told the Daily Wildcat he was surprised about the comments Klein made and would like her to detail what the accusations are.

Hart sent out a press release last week requesting the board complete an independent investigation into the UA’s health sciences administration and the accusations of misuse of public funds.

After sending out his own release in response, Garcia said Hart’s press release could have been worded better, but that she only meant to show her support for UA Health Sciences.

Garcia said their leadership team is very committed to improving the state of Arizona’s health, and they think they’ve answered all of the board’s questions in an exemplary fashion.

“If what President Klein says has merit and needs to be examined, then let’s go and examine it,” Garica said. “I’m pretty confident we’re going to come out with a clean bill of health. I just don’t even know what the allegations are so it’s hard for me to even speculate, but I think this needs to come to a closure soon rather than be prolonged, because this is keeping us from doing important work.”

UA Colleges of Medicine

The regents’ Health Affairs committee held two meetings to review, discuss and address concerns regarding the operation of UA’s two medical colleges this summer.

The meetings were held in response to the Arizona Medical Association’s request that the board launch an independent investigation into the resignation of six senior leadership members who left the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix earlier this year.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education issued an accreditation status warning the new UA College of Medicine-Phoenix campus of flawed administrative practices in August 2015.

While the Phoenix campus was able to move from “preliminary” to “provisional” accreditation status in February after addressing LCME’s concerns, ArMA’s House of Delegates approved a vote of no confidence in UA leadership in their oversight of UA’s College of Medicine-Phoenix in June. 

ArMA cited accreditation issues, concerns in the dean’s authority and the resignations as reasons for their vote, according to an ArMA press release.

At the meetings, Hart, Garcia and Interim Dean of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix Kenneth Ramos were given the chance to present to the board on current operations and the future of the two medical colleges. 

The regents and UA senior leadership discussed reasons for the six senior faculty departures from the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix, some suggesting that the college was being controlled excessively out of Tucson—a claim both Garcia and Ramos denied.

At the end of the second meeting, Klein said the board was going to see what questions remained unanswered and then take necessary action if needed. 

The board held a special meeting Friday to discuss possible action and receive legal advice.

Following the meeting, the regents announced that they instructed their general counsel to engage an outside expert to submit a report to the board and counsel after compiling, reviewing and evaluating the concerns raised about the UA medical colleges.


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