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News recap: Top 5 stories of the summer

WILL SEBERGER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
This summer the Aspen wildfire burned out of control on Mt. Lemmon. The fire claimed over 82,000 acres of land, including the town of Summerhaven. Aspen even threatened the Sabino Canyon region before being contained.
By Cara O'Connor
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Monday August 25, 2003

Aspen Fire threatens UA facilities

The Aspen Fire burned more than 85,000 acres between June 17 and July 12, destroying more than 340 homes and businesses and causing more than $15 million of damage to Mt. Lemmon.

The fire came within 100 yards of the Steward Observatory, threatened KUAT's radio towers and damaged the physics department's Cosmic Ray Laboratory on Radio Ridge.

Control lines and back burns prepared by firefighters kept the observatory from harm.

Steward Observatory Site Manager Jim Grantham was the only UA employee to remain in the observatory, which was also used as a dormitory for firefighters.

President Bush declared the Catalina Mountains a disaster area on July 14. The disaster prompted the president's trip to Tucson on Aug. 11. He visited the disaster area and spoke about promoting his Healthy Forests Initiative.

The fire was human-caused, but its exact origins are still undetermined.

Jacob Konst/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Planetary Scientist Peter Smith describes the next Mars mission funded by a $325 million dollar grant awarded to the University of Arizona, the largest grant ever awarded to the school.

UA lands millions for Mars project

NASA announced Aug. 5 that the UA would receive a $325 million grant ÷ the largest grant in the school's history ÷ to develop technology that will look for life on Mars.

The "Phoenix" mission is scheduled for 2008. Along with UA scientists, other contributors, including Lockheed Martin, will receive a portion of the NASA funding, meaning about $120 million will be spent in Tucson in the next three years.

UA's project was selected from the final four after competing with projects from Arizona State University, NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

"It was a photo finish and nerve-wrenching all the way," said Peter Smith, a principal investigator on the project.

The UA, which collaborated on the Mars Odyssey orbiter in 2001, won NASA's unanimous vote.

Likins reorganizes top positions

President Peter Likins announced a reorganization of the UA's top management positions, reshaping and eliminating senior executive roles.

The new positions, which Likins said are designed to better define each administrator's role, will take effect on Sept. 1.

George Davis, whose current title is senior vice president of academic affairs and provost, will take on the new title of executive vice president and provost, extending his role beyond that of "academic affairs."

Likins' third-in-command is Joel Valdez, whose title of senior vice president for business affairs will remain the same.

The fourth highest-ranking administrator is Saundra Taylor, the vice president for Campus Life. Her title will be changed to senior vice president for Campus Life.

Likins eliminated the position of vice president for undergraduate education, held by Randy Richardson. Richardson will return to the geosciences department.

Patti Ota, formerly the vice president for executive affairs and university initiatives, will take the new position of vice president for enrollment management. Edie Auslander will fill Ota's former position and serve as liaison to the Arizona Board of Regents and also the Tucson Hispanic community.

Frats lose charters, recognition

The UA chapters of Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) and Sigma Chi fraternities both lost their national charters over the summer, and Kappa Sigma fraternity had its UA recognition revoked.

Upon learning about the loss of their charter, Pike members vandalized the chapter house, breaking windows and furniture and painting graffiti on the walls.

The UA revoked Pike's recognition in December 2002 for alcohol infractions that violated the fraternity's probation status.

The national charter was revoked on May 16, and the house's destruction began on May 28.

Sigma Chi lost its national charter early in June after the university recognition was revoked in May for hazing violations that included forcing pledges to sit inside a freezer for an extended period of time.

Kappa Sigma, the UA's oldest fraternity, lost university recognition on July 3 for hazing and alcohol violations. The fraternity will once again be eligible for recognition in November.

One dean, four professors to leave UA

The dean of the Eller College of Business announced that he will leave the University of Arizona Jan. 1.

Mark Zupan will accept the position as dean of the University of Rochester's William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration in his hometown of Rochester, NY.

He has served in the Eller College for six years, serving as associate dean and then dean, working to prevent brain drain and keep Eller ranked as one of the top 25 business colleges in the nation.

Also announcing their resignations were four professors: chemistry professors Seth Marder, Joseph Perry and Jean-Luc Bred‡s, and optical sciences associate professor Bernard Kippelen.

The professors' resignations were a result of the delay in plans for a long-awaited addition to the Chemistry building. Construction for the 88,500-square-foot $45 million addition is expected to begin in February.

The four professors will teach at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where they have raised at least $5 million of grant money to begin their research.

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