Arizona's universities have been required by Gov. Jane Dee Hull to reduce their budgets by 4 percent. ASU and NAU have decided, quite fairly, to make 4 percent cuts across the board. Rather than follow this reasonable course, UA President Peter Likins proposes to destroy Arizona International College, the single most creative, valuable and innovative part of the entire university system.
He contorts statistics to justify this decision, but his real reason is to protect the bloated UA administration. Even among universities, which are infamous for their inefficiency, nepotism and cronyism, UA stands out. Its reputation in this regard is so widespread that even someone like myself, an author and publisher not connected with academia in any way, has heard about it from many separate sources.
AIC's budget is less than a sixth of the $13.8 million Likins needs to cut--about $2.25 million. Easily twice that amount could be pared from make-work aspects of the administration without the slightest decrease in its effectiveness. In fact, trimming $5 million worth of fat and waste would no doubt make it more responsive. (And that's without even considering glitzy, big-ticket projects like the Integrated Learning Center which, while it will provide some educational benefits, can't begin to compete with institutions like AIC on a dollar-for-dollar basis.)
Likins says that AIC has failed in its mission but the only thing it's failed at is being well-connected enough to survive in the brutal world of academic politics. If its extraordinary faculty weren't so busy giving their students the sort of personalized education every UA student deserves (but doesn't get), they might have had time to cultivate a protector or two in the administration.
I know about AIC because I was lucky enough to take a French class with one of its professors, Josiane Peltier, at Pima College. I've never encountered a more brilliant and enthusiastic teacher. When our class couldn't continue (because Pima is only a two-year school), Peltier offered to lead a "French club"--really a noncredit class--at AIC, as a service both to members of the community and to UA students in need of a little extra help. She did this in the evening, in addition to an already overloaded schedule and, needless to say, wasn't paid for it. (I'm sure the thought never even occurred to her.) This is just the sort of commitment one hopes for in a teacher, and just the sort of outreach a land-grant university is supposed to engage in.
As a result of participating in this class, I've met other AIC professors and have found them all to be in the same mold--passionate, talented and profoundly dedicated to their students. They produce just the sort of graduates employers say they want--well-rounded critical thinkers with technological and intercultural skills. Likins claims that it costs too much for AIC to provide this superior education, but the difference is only about $350 a student and even that figure is deceptive. AIC students get the full attention of their professors, while main-campus faculty, weighed down by research demands, spend less than a third of their time actually teaching. For a university that claims to be student-centered, AIC is clearly the better value.
The state created AIC to become a fourth university, on a par with UA, ASU and NAU. A lot of effort has been put into building an innovative curriculum and an exceptional international faculty. Throwing away all this hard work and success means a total loss of taxpayers' money. In a year or two the economy will have improved and a potentially great institution will be dead.
And UA students won't be the only ones to suffer. The Southwest is full of sleepy cowtowns with good weather and great scenery. Tucson has a chance to be something better, an exciting city that will attract more people like Barbara Kingsolver, Leslie Marmon Silko and Demetria Martinez, instead of forcing people like Pamela Uschuk and William Pitt Root--Tucson's first poet laureate--to emigrate because they can't find jobs worthy of their talents. Aside from its many other benefits, a culturally alive Tucson would be good for business. After all, more tourists visit Santa Fe than El Paso, Paris than Frankfurt.
The university's role is crucial in making Tucson a more lively and interesting place. Short-sighted actions like closing AIC will degrade the quality of life not only for UA students but for all of us who live here.
Regarding Jim Nintzel's "Street Sweep" [November 29]: Let's not waste taxpayer money in street widening. What Tucson needs to alleviate traffic woes is an elevated northwest to southeast freeway. No need to purchase the right-of-way; the city already owns it. Put it on pillar supports along the Rillito River from Orange Grove Road southeast to Golf Links Road on the Pantano Wash. This would eliminate a hell of a lot of traffic congestion. In my view, this merits serious consideration and study by our traffic department.
I read a copy of your November 21 edition and was totally appalled at the quality of writing and poor content. It reminded me of the National Enquirer or the Star. Emil Franzi was most certainly right about there being no resemblence between the Weekly and Rolling Stone.
When did the Weekly become so racist? A number of Mexican-American leaders were smeared within the first nine pages. First you nail Pima County Supervisor Raúl Grijalva for taking too long to get a holiday for Cesar Chavez passed. Then you attack Sylvia Campoy, head of EEOC for the city of Tucson. Finally, you assault Police Chief Richard Miranda because TPD officers are allegedly receiving discounted meals at restaurants. My question to you is: "Who cares?"
I would like to take issue with the Weekly on Dave Devine's criticism of Sylvia Campoy. I first met Campoy 19 years ago. She was a compliance officer with TUSD and I was a special-education teacher. Our paths have crossed professionally many times. There is no greater champion of "equity for all" than Campoy.
Campoy has worked and continues to work tirelessly to ensure that the civil rights all are upheld. Let us not forget that it was her compelling testimony in federal court that helped keep Catalina High School open. She has more integrity in her little finger than most people have in their entire bodies.
After reading Devine's article, I contacted a former colleague who now works in Campoy's office. I asked her if it was true that female employees were prohibited from socializing on and off the job, and she said, "Absolutely not!"
I love the source Devine referenced for part of this non-article: Willy Bils. No offense to Bils, but he sounds like he's a coke shy of a six-pack.
Hopefully, the Weekly will begin to report news and stop the ethnic smears. You paper used to be of a much higher quality. I hope you can return to reporting news and using credible sources.