Provost calls Flinn winners to entice them to Tucson

By Jeff Sklar
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Some of Arizona's top high school scholars answered their phones to a surprise earlier this spring Provost George Davis was recruiting them to the UA.

Davis phoned 22 high school seniors who, if they attend an Arizona university, will be designated winners of the Flinn Scholarship, a prestigious award that covers all school-related expenses and multiple trips abroad.

The scholars can choose to attend the UA, Arizona State University or Northern Arizona University, and Davis' phone calls were an attempt to lure as many of them to Tucson as possible.

Whether Davis was successful won't be known until late May, when the scholars-designee must decide which university they will attend.

But historically, the UA fares well in attracting Flinn Scholars, enrolling about 70 percent of the award winners, said Michael Cochise Young, the Flinn Scholars program director.

"I may have done some good for the university," Davis said. "I met some wonderful people."

The Flinn Foundation, which administers the scholarships, won't release the names of the potential scholars until next month.

But a UA freshman who won the scholarship last year said contact with high-ranking officials can impact students' decisions.

"It shows a lot of interest on the university's part in recruiting these people. I personally think it would be beneficial," said Matt Stone, a sophomore Flinn Scholar.

Stone said some of his friends were impressed when they had the chance to meet President Peter Likins during a dinner at the Arizona Stadium skyboxes.

The Flinn Scholars program doesn't encourage students to choose any specific state university, but Young said she was impressed such a high-ranking official would personally recruit students.

"I think that is an unusual move, but it indicates to these students how highly the university values them," she said.

In three years as the program's director, Young said she never heard of a provost personally contacting potential scholars.

Davis characterized the calls as a "hard sell," even though he said many of the scholars had already made up their minds to attend the UA.

Still, tracking them down wasn't always easy.

"I was talking to grandfathers, mothers, brothers. By the time I got to (the student), I would know what they had for lunch," Davis said. People told him, "George, next year, get their cells."

The Flinn Scholarship is considered one of the top accolades an Arizona high school student can win.

To be eligible, applicants must be ranked in the top 5 percent of their high school class, have at least a 3.5 GPA and a score of 1280 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT.

Saul Loeb contributed to this report.