Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Students' priorities should guide committee's choice
When the Arizona Daily Wildcat asked students about the ideal university president last week, they voiced a simple answer to a complex question: The next president must be focused on student needs.
In a random survey given to more than 100 students, 53 percent of respondents said class availability should be the next president's top priority. A close second was the cost of tuition, with 35 percent of students surveyed saying it was the most important.
In the months ahead, the 31-member search committee charged with making the short list for next UA president will talk abstractly - both in public and behind closed doors - about the complex qualities required of the job.
But the regents, professors, alumni, community members and two students on the board would be wise to listen to the collective voice of students and pick a president dedicated to the university's foremost reason for being: education.
As a land grant-based institution, the ultimate goal of the university is to educate the students of Arizona. One would hope that a president of such an institution would be mindful of this reality.
More immediate than a president mindful of rising tuition and textbook prices, then, is the necessity that the search committee - heavily weighted with alumni and utterly devoid of a minority student voice - be cognizant of what students expect.
While an individual student may only stay on campus for a handful of years, future student bodies will always seek education at the UA, and they deserve proper representation.
It's time the search committee stops talking about secrecy and the abstract character qualities that would make for a great president and get serious about getting a student advocate for our campus.
It's true that the search committee will face some complex questions, but the answers provided by students, it seems, are quite simple.