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Robbins welcomes UA freshmen during dorm move-in

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

UA President Dr. Robert Robbins walks Kelsey Kistner, center, to her new dorm room at Arbol de la Vida during UA Move-in day on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

The class of 2021 began its careers in earnest on Wednesday as UA President Dr. Robert Robbins helped meet and move students into their dorms. Teams of volunteers, resident assistants and administrators greeted the incoming freshmen all over campus.

Dr. Robbins, whose duties began June 1, spoke to reporters between trips up to rooms at the Arbol de la Vida residence hall. He said his presence was symbolic, a gesture to set both parents and students at ease. 

“I hope we deliver confidence to the parents that we are the surrogate parents and help take care of their students,” Dr. Robbins said.

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He wanted the community to know that his presence on campus would be ubiquitous, even after he moves out of his current apartment nearby.

“I am going to try to live as close to the campus as I can,” he said, while bemoaning the lack of an on-campus president’s residence.

Present for the 7 a.m. early arrivals, Robbins helped three female students move into their new homes for the term. He expressed a pleasant surprise at their chosen paths — all STEM majors.

“I mean, incredible students, incredible people, great families and I’m just so appreciative that they choose the University of Arizona,” Robbins said.

Biochemistry freshman Mandy Ba drove with her parents from California. After a scheduling mixup that placed the Ba’s in Tucson a day early, Ba was eager to see her new home, Arbol de la Vida, which is one of the exclusive Honors-only dorms.

Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

UA President Dr. Robert Robbins reaches into a car on UA Move-in day, Wednesday, Aug. 16.

“This was my first choice,” she said. “I did the essay and everything. So, I am absolutely very happy about that.”

While admitting to being nervous, Ba seemed to appreciate the smiles on all of the volunteers’ faces. 

“At the UC schools, it’s like no one cares about you; you’re just here and you study by yourself,” she said. “But at UA, it seems like everyone is like ‘Welcome,’” Ba said.

That sort of reaction is what RA and pre-public health sophomore Carly Connell was hoping for. After living in Arbol de la Vida last year, she decided to become an RA to help build a closer community. With move-in being the first impression, Connell said she hoped students felt welcomed.

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“I think a really big part of it is, the first thing they see is a smiling face,” she said. “Because I think moving to a new place can be stressful. And having people who know the system, who are friendly and excited to see them, will really help them feel at home as soon as possible.”

Even with all the hustle and bustle of the week, Robbins said he hoped a message of open possibility would inspire students. In return, he promised a long-lasting tie to the UA community.

“We care that we are going to be here not just today but for their entire four years,” he said. “And then, you know, be there for them hopefully for the next 40 after they leave here, because we really want to keep connected to our students and our alumni.”


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