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By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 3, 1997

Regents approve AIC relocation


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Celestino Fernández

A unanimous vote of the Arizona Board of Regents Friday decided the future of AIC: The school will be renamed and moved to the UA main campus.

Friday's vote came after a show of support Thursday from students and faculty of Arizona International Campus of the UA.

"The students and faculty would say they were on a perilous course, and now they are in an incubator," UA president Peter Likins said.

AIC will move to UA main campus and take on a new name, Arizona International College, in summer 1998, said Celestino Fernández, executive vice president and provost of the fledgling branch campus.

Last week's board meeting was the first for the newly appointed President Likins, who characterized it as, "very exciting and more dramatic than at a private institution," like his former school, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

Despite what AIC faculty called "negative press" about AIC, the campus was given the most favorable recommendation possible by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, which accredits colleges and universities.

In November of last year, the commission visited the school as the first step in AIC achieving separate accreditation. AIC is fully accredited through its relationship with the UA.

The commission identified a lack of funding as a major challenge facing the school.

"The reason we requested the change (move to UA) was because we were not receiving funding from the state," Fernández said, explaining that of $5 million requested the campus only received $2.2 million.

The UA had to loan AIC $950,000 during the summer to help make up the difference.

"The move to UA makes a great deal of sense," Fernández said.

Students and faculty said they look forward to using UA facilities like the Student Recreation Center and the Main Library.

The collocation of AIC and the UA will mean increased interaction between the faculty that "should result in better understanding," he said.

Fernández added that AIC will likely be located north of Speedway Boulevard in modular classrooms. The students could live in Babcock Inn, 1717 E. Speedway Blvd., and classes could also be taught in the nursing and pharmacy colleges.

Fernández stressed that the move is still in the planning stages.

AIC was conceived to accommodate a bulge in Arizona's college-bound population, he said. Before AIC there were no small liberal arts schools available to Arizona students, who may move out-of-state to find just that.

However, statewide enrollment did not increase as expected and AIC's enrollment has grown to just 106.

While AIC low enrollment has drawn scrutiny from UA faculty and the state legislature, the commission saw potential in the small campus.

"The evaluation team believes strongly that AIC has an appropriate mission and model to evolve into a strong, innovative institution for the 21st century," according to the CIHE report.

The evaluation team identified 23 strengths, including the involvement of students on AIC teams and a strong and creative curriculum.

Also identified were 11 challenges the school faces.

Among those challenges: The need to clarify future faculty contracts and, "the need for protection against outside interference and undue scrutiny of AIC's evolution."

"More are enrolled (at AIC) than ever before," said Regent John Munger who has often spoken in favor of the branch campus. AIC has received 215 applications from interested students this semester - more than ever before.

Some students and faculty agreed with the commissions findings.

Cynthia Soria, an undeclared AIC sophomore, said the bad press made the school look bad and hoped people who oppose the institution would at least visit it.

"They have never been here and there is something real positive happening here," said AIC Professor Melissa Lockhart, who added UA President Likins had been excited about AIC since he first heard about the concept.

The school's future was never in jeopardy, she said.

In other business Friday the Board of Regents also:

Gave initial approval to $9 million worth of improvements to the Main Library.

Discussed, but did not vote on, new undergraduate admissions requirements for 1998.

Approved consolidating the programs of landscape architecture and planning into the architecture college, which will be renamed next month according to Mary Kay Dinsmore, the architecture college's development officer.

Dinsmore said she did not know what the new name will be.

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