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University faces advising, research limitation challenges

By Eric Swedlund
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 10, 1999
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Student advising and a shortage of research space are two major challenges facing the UA, according to the university-wide self-study report published on a Web site last week.

In preparation for a North Central Accreditation visit in February, the University of Arizona committee on re-accreditation has compiled a comprehensive report outlining the accomplishments and areas of concern. The UA undergoes the re-accreditation process every 10 years.

"There are a number of areas that we need to develop more programs and resources," said Michael Cusanovich, a member of the steering committee and director of the Arizona Research Labs.

Major accomplishments for the past decade include classroom renovation, construction of new facilities and technological improvements.

"The highlights of the report is (the university's) ability to move forward during the last 10 years," Cusanovich said. "There has been significant improvement in undergraduate education and adjustments for new technology."

Also cited as accomplishments were positive trends in diversity, particularly minority student recruitment and increases in hiring female faculty.

"We've maintained competitiveness and national standing in research under extremely difficult budget conditions," Cusanovich said. "We did more with less over that (10-year) period."

Areas that need improvement include student advising and mentoring, shortage of research laboratory space, competitiveness of faculty salaries and technological instruction.

"Our greatest single space shortage on campus is research space," Cusanovich said. "This space is critical to the institution because it affects the ability to recruit and maintain faculty."

The steering committee, co-chaired by Randy Richardson, interim vice president of undergraduate education, and Betty Atwater, physiology associate department head, took reports from more than 200 people from eight working teams throughout the campus.

"It takes a lot of time," said Roger Caldwell, agriculture professor and leader of one of the working teams. "It is useful to ask questions and stand back to assess how things can be improved."

"The benefits are self-focusing," Caldwell said. "We don't need to wait for the NCA - we can make improvements ourselves."

The eight working teams that submitted preliminary reports in March and the steering committee worked over the summer to condense the research into about a 200-page document.

The working teams evaluated the university according to five NCA criteria - institutional mission and purposes, human, financial and physical resources, performance, capacity for continued effectiveness and institutional integrity in practices and relationships.

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