UA celebrates Robbins' installation as president
President Dr. Robert Robbins is applauded and officially recognized as the University of Arizona’s 22nd President on Nov. 29.
University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins was officially installed on Nov. 29 in Centennial Hall.
The event was established to ceremonially mark the beginning of Robbins’ tenure as president. Andrew Comrie, provost of the UA, explained that it's like getting married.
“Just like when you get married, the actual time you’re technically married is when the document is signed at the office,” Comrie said. “It’s the ceremony and having the guests there and having everyone sort of see it — that’s sort of what counts in some social sense. That’s the marker.”
The ceremony began at the Memorial Fountain on Old Main, where the national anthem was played and Regina Siquieros of the Tohono O’odham Nation blessed the event.
The procession began right after — made up of former UA presidents, Arizona Board of Regents and delegated faculty from both the UA and universities abroad — and ended inside of Centennial Hall.
There, remarks were made by Comrie, Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Board of Regents Chair Bill Ridenour. Ridenour, along with Regent Ron Shoopman, led the installation, after which Robbins was officially recognized as UA president.
After the installation, Robbins gave his remarks where he outlined his goals for the university, which included his signature goal of wanting UA to be a leader in the "Fourth Industrial Revolution."
As of November, Robbins has been the UA president for six months. With this much of his tenure completed, Robbins has developed a reputation as being an active president.
Melissa Vito, senior vice president for student affairs, enrollment and strategic initiatives, said Robbins is "terrific."
“He’s super energetic and has definitely reached out to the community — all members of the community,” Vito said. “I think [it's] really awesome.”
Stephen Fleming, vice president for strategic business initiatives, said he likes the way Robbins has interacted with the business community in the past six months.
“In that time, he’s been very active in reaching out to the business community and business community up in Phoenix,” Fleming said. “Both of which is a part of our mandate as a land-grant university.”
Robbins’ ability to interact with the community is what the regents were looking for when selecting the UA president earlier this year.
“Part of what we needed was someone who could engage — internally and externally — the people of Arizona and the faculty and students of the university,” Shoopman said. “And Dr. Robbins is the perfect match for that.”
Gov. Ducey said he sees Robbins’ ability to work with people as important for being the president of a university.
“In this role, you’re working with students, you’re working with parents, you’re working with faculty, alumni and citizens of the state and the city,” Ducey said. “So I think Bobby Robbins is uniquely equipped to do all of that.”
Ducey said he thinks Robbins has found success because he is "an outsider to academia."
“While he’s certainly credentialed and certainly worked within the academy, he comes from experience outside the traditional upbringing inside these institutions,” Ducey said.
Shoopman noted that, during his time as director of Texas Medical Center, Robbins was able to get 59 different organizations to work together. Because of this, he wants to see Robbins do two things with UA:
“We want him to get all of the colleges on this great university working together,” Shoopman said. “But also all three universities in the state and the private sector to work together for the good of Arizona.”
Ducey said he wants to see Robbins pay more attention to the most important aspect of the UA.
“I want to see him pay a tremendous amount of attention to academics, and not so much attention to athletics,” Ducey said. “But I think there is so much good innovation and research that’s coming.”
However, for Robbins, the primary priority will be attaining funds for the UA.
“How can we get more scholarships for students? How can we get the resources we need to advance the university for programs, to help support students, to do our research, to get the facilities in line?” Robbins said. “So, that’s always going to be number one.”
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