Your guide to the UA's key players

This might be the first time you've picked up a copy of the Wildcat, but chances are it won't be the last. When you start reading us in the fall, you'll probably notice some familiar names popping up again and again in our news section. Long-time readers will be familiar with them, but newbies may well be left feeling adrift. Here's our guide to a few of those names.


Robert Shelton, UA president


When Shelton arrived in 2006 to serve as the UA's 19th president, he was generally received as a breath of fresh air. Tall, dapper and serious-looking, Shelton made his mission clear: to bring the university into the 21st century. He hadn't been in office long, however, when the national and state economies began to sag, resulting in a budget nightmare that would plague even the most able of helmsmen. For all the problems he's faced, however, he's retained a sangfroid that his harshest critic would have to admire.


Meredith Hay, executive vice president and provost


President Shelton chose Hay as the UA's chief academic officer in February 2008 out of a field of more than 60 applicants. Hay's major project is overseeing the UA Transformation Plan, an ambitious and far-reaching program that involves overhauling some colleges and consolidating others. The plan has drawn fire from critics who argue that it will do more harm than good, and Hay has defended it with an equal amount of fervor. ""The old way will not suffice,"" Hay said at a town-hall meeting to discuss the plan in September 2008. ""Everything is on the table.""


Chris Nagata, Associated Students of the University of Arizona president


Nagata was elected in March, handily defeating rival Shane Cathers by more than 2,000 votes. A protégé of previous ASUA president Tommy Bruce, Nagata came across in our pre-endorsement interview as smart, focused and knowledgeable about everything he spoke about. They're qualities he'll need when he heads into the new semester, when all eyes will be focused on him to help the student government bounce back from the embarrassing mistakes of the last semester - most notably an ill-advised Jay-Z concert that lost $916,000.


Paul Portney, dean, Eller College of Management


Eller is the highest-ranking college at the UA, topping out at No. 15 in U.S. News and World Report's list of the top undergraduate business programs in the country. Portney, a former president of Washington think-tank Resource for the Future and the author of ten books, has been Eller's dean since 2005.


Peter Smith, principal investigator on Phoenix mission


The Mars Lander project, which sent the Phoenix spacecraft to study the Red Planet, was one of the UA's genuine triumphs in the last decade. The landmark mission found evidence of water in Martian soil, a discovery that staggered the world. ""You only have to have life in one tiny little place and you've got an inhabited planet,"" Smith, the senior researcher at the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory who served as the project's principal investigator, told the Daily Wildcat in December. ""Maybe we didn't find it, but it's there somewhere.""


Jim Livengood, athletics director


Livengood has managed our athletics department since 1994, and he's made a number of key hiring decisions, including head football coach Mike Stoops and basketball newcomer Sean Miller, the successor to UA legend Lute Olson. He's also taken some heat over the last, tumultuous year, which he seems to have taken in stride. ""As an (athletic director), if you hire somebody and it doesn't work, the entire free world knows whose fault it is: It's the athletic director's,"" he told Athletic Management in 2004. ""If you hire somebody who works, the entire free world will probably take full credit.""


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