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Who's who in the red and blue

Peter Likins
University president
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
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Pete Likins

When it comes right down to it, nobody influences the UA more than President Peter Likins, now in his ninth and final year in the role. While the presidential search committee, headed by Regent Fred Boice, searches for a worthy replacement, this year will serve as a year of reflection on Likins' tenure.

Several words come to mind that describe the Likins years, but one that doesn't is "inaction." The early years saw massive construction on campus, including that of the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center and the enormous but still underutilized Student Union Memorial Center.

More recently, his Focused Excellence plan and tuition hikes have received a lot of attention. Focused Excellence, a plan devised to deal with decreasing state budgets by eliminating weak departments in order to maintain the strength of stronger ones, has a history in and of itself. Despite repeated attempts at eliminations, perhaps most notoriously that of the School of Planning, many say that the plan has not resulted in significant cuts.

On the other hand, Likins has attacked declining state budgets from the revenue side, using hefty tuition increases. Striving to keep the UA at the top of the lower third for tuition, Likins has repeatedly raised costs, including a nearly 40 percent hike in 2003. Likins is also working to increase admissions standards, which he believes will improve the UA's retention rate.

Likins, a short and very personable man, has a history of engaging students and answering concerns while maintaining a packed schedule. Far from treating this year as a victory lap, we expect more of the same from Likins - action.

Cade Bernsen
ASUA president

Cade Bernsen

Known for his Texas twang and rock-solid handshakes, Cade Bernsen is the president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) for the upcoming academic year. As president, he represents the student body and oversees student government. The job comes with long work hours and plenty of pressure, but Bernsen says he's cut out for it.

Despite transferring to the UA from the University of Texas only a year ago, Bernsen came away with 51.3 percent of the vote in a bitterly contested election that saw the highest turnout in a decade.

An ASUA outsider, he has garnered significant experience in politics with his father, a former Texas legislator, by campaigning extensively throughout Texas.

Bernsen takes great pride in his work ethic, having said during last year's election campaign, "I grew up with the philosophy given to me by my family to go early, stay late and outwork anybody else."

As ASUA president, Bernsen's chief responsibility will be to lobby the Arizona state Legislature and represent undergraduate student concerns there and with the administration. Bernsen is a member of the committee charged with finding a replacement for soon-to-retire President Peter Likins, allowing him the rare opportunity to push undergraduate issues while considering the candidates for the next UA president.

Having been praised last spring by former rivals for the ASUA presidency as "an inspirational guy" and "a fighter," Mr. Bernsen will have plenty to prove in the upcoming year.

George Davis

Executive Vice President and Provost George Davis is the chief academic officer for the university. Formerly the president of the University of Vermont and a UA geosciences professor, Davis received his Ph.D. in economic geology from the University of Michigan. In between meetings with administrators and mapping out the UA's academic future, Davis spends his time chasing Zeus geologically, working intermittently on an excavation research project in the ancient Greek region of Arcadia. Known for his not-so-secret obsession with rocks, Dr. Davis is also recognized as a captivating public speaker and a highly respected administrator who listens to students' concerns while working closely with President Likins - he was even featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2003 for redefining the role of the provost.

Ben Graff
Voting student regent

Ben Graff

A former ASUA president and current second-year law student, Ben Graff is the voting student regent on the Arizona Board of Regents. Graff wields considerable sway as one of 12 people who determine policies surrounding the Arizona university system (the other student regent is the non-voting Kolby Granville from ASU). Graff represents not just the UA, but over 100,000 college students statewide. The issues ABOR tackles range from tuition hikes to admission standards to faculty hiring and retention practices.

In addition to serving on this board, Graff, along with current ASUA president Cade Bernsen, represents the student voice on the presidential search committee. With President Pete Likins set to retire by the end of the next school year, Graff will be involved in selecting his replacement. Graff's unusual position as a student with much clout within the administration makes him an important person, serving as both a peer and pseudo-bureaucrat.

Roxie Catts

A former adviser in the molecular and cellular biology and computer science departments, Roxie Catts has also served on the Academic Advising Task Force. This spring she was appointed to the position of director of the Advising Resource Center (ARC).

Advising is one issue at the UA that is crucial to student success. With so much bureaucracy to overcome and so many different academic options, advisers are counted on to guide students. Advising at the UA has come under fire in recent past, and Catts would like to improve it.

As acting director of the ARC, Catts is the prime source of information for events involving students' educational and career goals. Also in charge of the Undergraduate Academic Advising Council, Catts and her staff work in conjunction with the vast number of advisers across campus.

Responsible for both training advisers and for improving current practices, Catts is one of the most significant campus administrators, as her department tries to create a more personal relationship between the student and the university.

Melissa Vito

If anyone knows how to find resources around campus, it's Melissa Vito, associate vice president for campus life since 1999 and Dean of Students since May 1994. After spending both her undergraduate and graduate years at the UA, she now assists students, administrators, parents and faculty in understanding UA programs and procedures. Her job also brings her into continual contact with students as she advocates on behalf of student organizations. Furthermore, she's the person you should befriend in case any disciplinary issues should arise. Because she's in charge of doling out the appropriate punishment, it wouldn't hurt to have an in when you're on the outs.

As dean, she dabbles in most areas of student life: organizations, academics, residency and more. But her main priority is to uphold student policies. If there's something regarding the UA that you don't understand, ask her. Don't walk around in a haze for the next four years.

Sergeant Eugene Mejia

While most students enjoy reading the PoliceBeat blurbs, the vast majority don't want to be the victims of those same instances. To avoid such a situation, make friends with Sgt. Eugene Mejia.

Appointed as UAPD's public information officer in July 2003, Sgt. Mejia actively oversees crime prevention programs and schedules UAPD involvement for on-campus events. Even if not physically on campus, his presence is felt via Campus Watch. Founded in November 2004, this program makes recommendations on how to keep the UA safer and provides presentations to campus and community programs.

Sgt. Mejia also acts as UAPD's media spokesperson. After working for the Tucson Police Department, Sgt. Mejia knows how to reduce the likeliness of crime. If you have concerns about your personal safety, he can share useful tips to keep you protected and your belongings intact.

Jerry Hogle

He's the man with the plan - the lesson plan that is. Dr. Jerry Hogle received the honorable position of vice provost for instruction in January 2004 after beginning his career as a UA English professor in 1974. He earned his current status of university distinguished professor in 1996.

So what exactly does his position entail? Dr. Hogle oversees budgeting, quality and innovation for university teaching. His decisions help determine the number of classes allotted each year for general education and major requirements. Yet this is just a small fraction of his influence. He's tackled the major issue of, well, minors. In the past few years, classes once offered to both majors and minors in particular fields - most notably journalism and communication - had to restrict enrollment to only majors. Leading the charge, Dr. Hogle fought back with the appointment of a Faculty Advisory Committee to concoct a plan in order to reinstate minor programs.

Because of his clear dedication to ensure the best possible education for university students, Dr. Hogle is a resource that students can turn to with questions, concerns and even suggestions. Dr. Hogle should also be on the list of professors to watch for any English or creative writing major. After taking one class with him, your vocabulary will increase dramatically; more importantly, you'll have a connection to one of the top administrators at the UA.

Lute Olson
Basketball Coach

Lute Olson and Mike Stoops

Everyone knows that Lute Olson is sheriff of this town. The head men's basketball coach, who will turn 71 this fall, is the city's biggest celebrity and the national face of the UA. Beloved by fans, the soft-spoken but charismatic hall-of-famer is an institution unto himself at the UA, and there is plenty of reason for the accolades he receives.

He has led the Wildcats to the best winning percentage in college basketball in the last 17 years, brought home a national championship in 1997, and has taken the Cats to 21 consecutive NCAA tournaments - the longest such streak in the country. Olson gets paid well for his services: $700,000 per year from the state, which makes him the highest paid employee of the state of Arizona. He gets another $350,000 per year from Nike, but few complain. He is also active in the community and last year donated $1 million. We consider ourselves lucky to have him on board and signed on until 2009.

Mike Stoops
Football Coach

Football coach Mike Stoops would like to build a similar reputation. And after one season as head coach, things look promising.

His fiery style and dedication to winning provide a much-needed contrast to the detached style of former coach John Mackovic. The Cats won two of their last three games in Pacific 10 play, including a field-rushing defeat of ranked ASU in the last game of the season. After reeling in a top 20 recruiting class in February, the football team should be much-improved this fall.

Stoops is paid well too, to the tune of $650,000 per year, and the fiscal stability of the athletic department depends on his success. If his fieldside histrionics are any indication, he'll do whatever it takes to get UA football back to bowl games.

Wilbur the Wildcat

Wilbur the Wildcat is the cuddly mascot of our university. Not as crude as the San Diego chicken or as non-threatening and dorky as the Santa Cruz banana slug, Wilbur took the helm as our official mascot in November of 1959 in a football game against Texas Tech, and hasn't let us down since.

Along with his wife of 19 years, Wilma Wildcat, Wilbur is a highly visible member of the campus, presiding at various school spirit events such as Homecoming and Spring Fling. A dedicated family man, Wilbur is renewing his vows with wife Wilma in this upcoming sports season. Look to this pair to motivate and rouse the crowds throughout the year.

- By Susan Bonicillo, Ryan Johnson, Katie Paulson, Dan Post and Matt Stone.

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