Arizona Daily Wildcat
First show of the program focuses on Campaign Arizona, faculty
A new television program called "UA Journal: A Conversation with the President" premiered last night on KUAT-TV to raise UA awareness in the Arizona community.
The program featured a conversation between University of Arizona President Peter Likins and Janet Bingham, the vice president for university advancement.
The show was taped in early January but was aired last night at 6 p.m. The topics discussed were Campaign Arizona and the phenomenon known as "brain drain." It also featured a question and answer session with various members of the UA community.
Likins said the show is an effort to reach beyond the campus to increase financial possibilities. However, he pointed out the show was not a fund-raiser.
"It is a friend-raiser," Likins said. "We want to help the public understand and value what we do."
On the show, Likins said the combination of public and private funds is essential to the success of the university. However, he added the goal of one billion dollars from private sources for Campaign Arizona would not satisfy all of the UA's resource programs.
"The money is not the end all, be all of our problems, but it is part of the story," Likins said.
He also pointed out that a billion dollars may seem like a lot of money for a fund-raiser but the UA spends a billion dollars each year. He added that the state gives us about a third of the university's budget.
"It is a precious third," Likins said. "If we just relied on the money from the state we could do okay, but we would not be exceptional."
Likins said it was important to communicate to the legislature that the competition for the best university professors is heating up. He said they realize it is important to strengthen Arizona universities, but may not be aware of how much the UA faculty is being offered.
"We can't pay very well so we end up losing about twice as many professors as we recruit," Likins said. "We have hundreds of faculty members who are being recruited for up to 50 percent higher salaries."
He added that he thought the current legislature has shown an interest in education that has been absent in Arizona for a long time. However, he said his administration is trying to persuade the public and the legislature that the UA can't survive on 2 percent a year salary increase.
A section of the program featured William Velez, a UA mathematics professor. He is credited with starting a mentoring program in the math department for minority students.
"William Velez is a shining example of why we need to increase faculty retention," Bingham said in last night's show.
Most of the UA community questions centered around diversity issues which Likins said was an issue that he has fought hard for throughout his career.
Alex Wright, the director of African-American student affairs, asked Likins how he could increase the diversity of the UA faculty.
Likins responded that the UA has an obligation to develop a program to increase faculty diversity and increase support services for minority students. He added that the main problem increasing faculty diversity faces is the lack of resources.
Yesterday's show was the first in the program, which will feature conversations with Likins and showcase various UA research projects - each to air twice a year - said Rich Amanda, an information specialist coordinator at UA news services and the programs' producer.
"The purpose of the show is to allow the community outside the university community to hear about topics that may interest them," Amanda said.