University topic of town hall meeting

By Joseph Barrios

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Tucson public had a chance to talk with the UA's two top administrators yesterday during a town meeting.

Co-sponsored by the Tucson Citizen and Greater Tucson Leadership, the meeting invited the public to ask University of Arizona President Manuel T. Pacheco and Provost Paul Sypherd any questions regarding the university. About 325 people attended the meeting at the Doubletree Hotel.

Most of the discussion was focused on department eliminations. It was revealed that the physical education program was advised by Sypherd to prepare guidelines for their phase-out.

Maureen Murphy, chair of Pima Community Colleges Fitness and Sport Sciences Department asked Sypherd if the decision to cut the physical education program was already made.

Sypherd said the department has been advised to prepare guidelines for their "downsizing," although Sypherd said he has not made his final recommendation to President Pacheco.

"We asked them to come to the university over the years. They've done a good job. Their resources have fallen. We're now at the point of (being forced to) make a decision," Sypherd said.

Sypherd will submit his final recommendations to Pacheco within the next few weeks. Pacheco will then make his own recommendations to the Arizona Board of Regents, which will render the final decision as early as the end of this year.

Murphy argued that it was not just the UA's department that would be cut, but that Pima Community College students wanting to transfer to the UA would no longer have the chance. She said it would also hurt the P.E. programs in Arizona elementary, middle and high schools.

"It has a trickle effect, not just what with Pima is doing, but elementary schools. You're killing an entire unit," Murphy said.

Kathryn Russell, associate professor in UA exercise and sports science, said Sypherd told faculty during a Tuesday meeting that he would recommend to cut the department. She said a revised recommendation in June more favorably considered how physical education plays a role in general education.

"The second recommendation was more positive. We were hopeful the dean and the provost would recognize the need and act accordingly. They decided not to," Russell said.

Jacquline Sharkey, UA journalism professor, questioned why the department was scheduled for elimination if it is cost efficient and fulfills the goals set by the university. Students and department alumni also spoke up in defense of the program.

Pacheco said no final decision on the department was made and said options were being weighed. Pacheco repeated an alternative plan that would combine journalism with communications or would revamp the curriculum of the department.

Audience members also raised concerns about the new four-year campus in Pima County, scheduled to be located at the IBM complex acquired during the summer of this year. During his introduction, Pacheco said the new campus was the best way to absorb some of the estimated 55,000 students that will enter the Arizona university system by 2010.

The campus might be trying to fulfill a need that Arizona's community colleges already serve, said Norman Stickler, a graduate student in the College of Education. Stickler said another four-year university is not needed in Arizona because community colleges already provide adequate undergraduate education.

Stickler also said the new campus, on the west edge of Tucson by Rita Road and Interstate 10, is too far away from the community it is supposed to serve.

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