UA President Eugene Sander publicly declared his opposition to guns on campus on Thursday, as well as discussed his recent meetings with state legislators regarding the College of Medicine and the university’s budget during his fourth town hall-style meeting.
Sander began the meeting by explaining some of the proposed legislation that would allow guns on campus, saying that because the UA is an academic hub that houses scholars, athletes, professors and children, having guns on campus would be neither smart nor safe.
“I believe in the Second Amendment and I even own a host of guns, however this does not give me the right to take it in certain locations,” he said. “I stand by the newest right made by the Legislature that guns on campus are not permitted.”
Sander also said he spoke with state legislators about increasing the overall class size of the UA’s medical school in Phoenix from 48 to 88 students. By doing so, he said, more students can practice medicine with a degree from one of the finest programs in the country.
“We can look up from our hospital bed one day and have more comfort knowing that this physician attending us was possibly a graduate of the University of Arizona medical school,” he said.
Sander was asked about the Incentive Program for Voluntary Retirement that began last year, which would allow qualified UA employees willing to retire early with one year’s annualized salary. The university aimed to put 30 percent of qualifiers on the program, but they only reached 20 percent, he said. Now, his vision has changed for this program, he said.
“We are truly looking for a steady, dependable amount of money where we can make it (the program) work, with a student aid package and other ways to solve these complex issues such as retirement funding,” he said.
The university is also concerned with total cost of attendance for students, Sander said, and that $167 million worth of university needs have been cut in the last three years. Sander said one of his biggest worries within the next decade is the large amount of debt incurred by students.
“I recently noticed that debt for college students is larger than the credit card debt that America is facing,” he said. “This worries me because it’s such a major issue for a new college graduate with only an entry-level job.”
The UA is also planning on expanding into downtown, Sander said, and the modern streetcar project could make traveling there much easier. But fitting physical UA buildings downtown, he said, may be problematic. The UA has already constructed a science center in the area and plans to continue building there.
In addition, Sander said he and Len Jessup, dean of the Eller College of Management, are looking to give Tech Launch Arizona a physical location. The program will allow UA students and researchers to get their inventions out in the marketplace.
“As I and other university officials look at this more and more, we see Tech Launch being a huge participant to the Eller College of Management and to the university,” Sander said. “The MBA program and the Entrepreneurship program will greatly benefit from this new program.”