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ASUA Notebook: Robbins addresses senators

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University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins addressed the Associated Students of the University of Arizona on Nov. 1 about issues facing the UA.

Robbins first addressed the issue of tuition, which he sees going up in response to the state's decreased funding to the UA in recent years.

“If you look at how much money the state has provided to the university, it’s taken a big, dramatic cut, probably 50 percent,” Robbins said.

Despite the fact that the state has provided less support to the UA over the years, Robbins said in-state students "get a deal" in Arizona, as opposed to other states. However, he said he doesn't think state support will return soon.

“I’m very enthusiastic about the future,” Robbins said. “But I’m not enthusiastic that the legislature is going to provide more money to higher education."

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Robbins also addressed increasing diversity at the UA, which he said is very important to him, adding that he believes the key to attracting more diverse students is a more diverse faculty and staff on campus. 

“Oftentimes, people want to go to a university where they know that they’re welcomed, where they can see people that look like them, think like them and they can be mentored by,” Robbins said. “But I think, also, the ability to go into an environment and a culture that you learn from others that don’t look like you and think like you.”

He also addressed his interactions with the Marginalized Students at the UA and what he’s learned from them. Robbins said he feels like they rarely get the chance to talk to administration.

“I think it’s about dialogue; it’s about meeting; it’s about having the exchange of ideas,” Robbins said. “It’s also about what I think is possible and what I don’t think is possible — being transparent and honest about it. Because if I promise things and don’t deliver them, then it hurts credibility.”

Finally, the UA president addressed the freshman acceptance and retention rates, which he is not happy with. 

“I think the acceptance rate is too high. We should make it tougher to go to school here,” he said. “I think the retention rate is way too low.”

Robbins said these rates hurt the university in national rankings. U.S. News and World Report ranks the UA at 124th, and Robbins said he thinks it should be better. 

“The thing that really hurts us is six-year graduation and retention; we’re at about 160 in those parameters,” he said. “For reputation and for the things that matter around the research area, we’re at 50.”

He said it is important to address the graduation and retention rate because he has a goal for elevating the university in its rankings. 

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“One of my goals is that we will be a top 100 U.S. News and World Report, and the top 50 public,” Robbins said. “So, we really have to work on that.”

Also during the meeting, ASUA welcomed Senator Gregory Taylor, who was elected during the Oct. 24 special election for the College of Fine Arts. He majors in dance and optics.  

“I’m interested in spreading awareness for cultural performing arts on campus,” Taylor said. “Seems like there are a lot of live performances and no one knows about them.”

A theme-club fair is scheduled for Nov. 13 and 14, with the themes of education and leadership, said David McGarey, executive vice president of ASUA. 

“We’re going to be inviting just short of 200 clubs, and we’re hoping to get 50 on the [UA Mall] each day,” McGarey said. 


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