By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The search for a new university president is underway as the search committee begins establishing criteria for candidates, but students and faculty have opinions of their own about what the new president should focus on.
Arizona Daily Wildcat staff randomly surveyed more than 100 students last week by walking into classrooms and asking students to anonymously fill out a questionnaire about the most important university issues and characteristics the next president should have.
Enhancing diversity, competitive faculty salaries, building and maintenance renewal, rising tuition costs and class availability were the five choices students mulled over by marking which are the most and least important.
From those surveyed, 53 percent said class availability should be the next president's first priority.
Rising tuition costs was second on the priority list, with about 35 percent saying it was the most important.
Enhancing diversity was the least important choice, with about 31 percent saying it should be the next president's last priority.
Close behind were building maintenance at 30 percent and competitive faculty salaries, with 27 percent of those surveyed saying it should be the last priority.
Most students said they wanted a solid, open-minded and accessible president, who would be willing to sit down and listen to students. Other students said they would like to see a well-traveled, female president take the reigns at the UA.
"I want someone who's not afraid to stir things up in favor of students' rights, especially lack of classroom availability and rising tuition costs," one student wrote.
Another student wrote the new president should have passion to help improve the UA from the inside out because the administration is more concerned about the university's rankings while students still can't manage to get the classes they need.
For students like Kathleen Zajicek, an undeclared freshman, understanding student needs and wants are necessary traits of a good president because the UA should cater to those requests anyway. She said the rising prices of tuition and textbooks are a necessity.
The Arizona Daily Wildcat surveyed more than 100 students asking them what qualities they
would look for in a new president
Class availability 53%
Rising tuition costs 35%
Enhancing diversity 6%
Competitive faculty salaries 3%
and renewal 3%
Enhancing diversity 31%
and renewal 30%
Competitive faculty salaries 27%
Rising tuition costs 10%
Class availability 2%
"The next president needs to place a lot of focus on the students and their needs as well as the overall picture," Zajicek said.
Professors, department heads and employees were also asked what they thought.
Ines Brown, a senior office specialist in the Registrar's Office, said raising employee rates and salaries and continuing to improve benefit packages are some of the needs the new president needs to address right away.
"They're never at the level they should be," Brown said.
The ability to recruit talented and qualified professors and finding the money to pay them is a major concern for other faculty as well.
Professor J. Christopher Maloney, head of the philosophy department, said a real focus should be on commitment to academic values with an understanding of the importance for research, teaching and public service.
Many of these qualities can be found in Likins and they need to be a main concern for the new UA president in order in retain faculty year after year, Maloney said.
Dr. Keith Joiner, dean of the College of Medicine, said the next president needs to have a bold vision for the future of the UA, which includes financial savvy, an ability to improve already established programs and knowledge of the healthcare and biomedical research field.
Even though the UA is a level-one research institution, some students surveyed said they would like to see more commitment to the lives of undergraduates rather than professors and graduate students.
"We all know what a top-notch, research university this is, but it is hard to see how it can continue to succeed without an undergraduate population as a priority," one student wrote.
Other students said the rising cost of education is the top priority.
"I would like someone who has obviously lived the 'college life' and understands the issue of rising costs of secondary education and the value of it in today's society," one student said.
Out-of-state students like Drew Acosta, a psychology sophomore, agreed by saying the new president should look hard into lowering out-of-state tuition instead of maintaining in-state tuition rates, which are less burdensome.
He said the new president should make attending the UA comparable for all students in the future.