Waiting for state help won't solve the UA's problems
The Arizona Board of Regents thinks the UA needs improvement in two areas - advising and graduation rates.
According to UA President Peter Likins and Regent Judy Gignac, these faults are here to stay, at least until someone else can fix them.
Responding to the 2000 regents' Report Card, Likins and Gignac said that although the UA has had the same problems for years now, the only chance we have for a remedy is through financial help from the Legislature.
The University of Arizona has pretty much pleaded guilty to lousy retention rates with little hope for reform. Advising has been attributed to the plague of limited faculty.
But this hardly means that the UA's hands are tied in solving its flaws.
While monetary constraints certainly put a bind on the UA's operations, optimistic anticipation for state help is not a realistic attitude to have toward its two failing areas.
Hopefully the day will come when the Legislature finally supports the university so much that it can boost its resources, but until then the UA can reevaluate its own internal workings to improve those recurring bad ratings.
"I'm optimistic in the long term about improvements in support from the Legislature," Likins said.
Judging from past results, it's hard to see where that optimism comes from. While more money could bring in more faculty and potentially solve both inadequate areas, the trend suggesting that might happen just isn't there.
"I don't believe there's much more the universities can do," Gignac said about repairing their flaws.
Low graduation rates are just a part of the UA. The university holds, well, liberal admission standards, and tuition is kept so low that not enough faculty can be hired to pay special attention to each of the many students on campus. That means a lot of people just aren't going to make it out in a short period.
But more guidance and available educational resources could be tailored to help get people out faster.
Which leads to advising - a whole other situation. Again, more faculty could solve that problem. But a large aspect of the UA's substandard advising stems from a fragmented, confusing system.
Proof of this lies in the handful of colleges that have good advising.
All of these avenues for self-improvement should ultimately lead one's thoughts down to a big fat hole in the middle of campus. It's a hole where, in just a few years and $30 million, all of our troubles can be flushed away - The Integrated Learning Center.
The university is putting a lot of money and time into that hole, and it has been sold on the fact that it's going to clean up our report card - better advising, faster graduation.
The UA had better hope that the ILC will solve the problems in question. If we really can't do anything else to improve our system without more state money, the hole is going to be exactly that - a hole.