Fernández awaits approval

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Although no students will attend the school until fall 1996, work on the new four-year college in Pima County will start as soon as the Arizona Board of Regents approves the campus' new leader.

Celestino Fernández, the University of Arizona vice president of academic outreach and international affairs, was appointed by President Manuel Pacheco as executive vice president and provost of the new college. The regents will vote on the appointment Friday.

If approved, Fernández said he will move into the new facilities "as soon as possible."

Fernández has been involved in planning the new college since 1989, when he was a member of a regent-created committee discussing ways to deal with the expected enrollment growth in the state. He said he has been "very involved" in planning for the campus for more than a year since "the idea became a real project" and said he has many reasons for seeking a leadership position in the college's planning.

"It is a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put together a team of individuals who will develop an institution of the future," he said. "The challenge is in the opportunity. I can take what I learned in the last 25 years and put it into practice."

Fernandez said about eight members of his immediate staff will also be transferring to the new facilities with him. No other

positions will be filled immediately but as positions arise, beginning next year, the positions will be announced to candidates both on and off campus, Fernández said.

Fernández said he will report directly to Pacheco for an undecided period of time ─ at least "a few years" ─ until the college will become independent from the UA.

The immediate goals of Fernández's administration are to develop a campus master plan, financial plan, academic plan and marketing plan for the new college, he said.

The master plan, which includes determining the campus' building arrangement and location, and the financial plan may be contracted to independent firms, Fernández said.

He said his office will be in charge of developing the academic plan and marketing the school's mission and environment to recruit students.

After an announcement this summer, more than 180 people from the university and the community have volunteered to be part of the new college's academic planning committee, Fernández said. He will now review the applications and select a "manageable group" of about 15 people.

Ramon Paz, the principal at Amphitheater High School, said he wants to be on the committee to represent the interests of high school students and make college easier for them.

"I'm interested because I care quite a bit about seeing our kids go into higher education," he said. "And what I've heard from them is that they find themselves taking classes that don't apply to their majors and without the right courses available at the right time, so they find themselves just going through the motions. The interests students leave high school with often are not what they end up studying in college as a result of scheduling and other problems."

Paz said that by participating on the committee, he hopes to help plan a college that would allow students to pursue their interests and get an education that is "still relevant." He said he can give insight into what high school students need and want for their futures.

John Kissler, who is currently Fernández' special assistant, said he will serve as a liason to the committee and will provide whatever information they need to plan the college's academic plan. He said although his specific duties have not yet been decided, he will participate in the initial planning for the college.

Fernández said that with the help of committee members, his administration will attempt to plan an "institution of the future."

"We can take the best practices of American higher education and leave behind the problems," he said.

Fernández said the committee will look into the establishment of a "campus community center" rather than a traditional student union.

"The notion of a student union has evolved and is evolving," he said. "We need to look at the horizon and see what the needs of students will be as we enter the 21st century."

Also, rather than a library, the new college will have an "information center" that contains books as well as electronic access to other information, Fernández said.

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