It’s time, Mr. President: End this “world class” charade

By Shain Bergan

When UA News released this video last week of University of Arizona President Robert Shelton “on the issues”, it was met with little to no fanfare, or even rather no recognition. It’s not hard to see why; there is certainly a lion’s share of routine talking points and the usual stock quotes to which we’ve all become way too accustomed since the initial memo announcing the beginning of the UA Transformation Process hit the presses in September 2008.

You know them—they string together phrases like “world-class institution” and “quality education” as if anyone is really buying that the mass reorganization, consolidation and cutting of UA programs nearly across the board are making us into a better university full of better students who will become better people to create a better world following their UA edification.

The video is almost a perfect summation of the what the UA faculty and students have been damn angry about for almost two years now—the inability of the university leaders to just admit that we’re all screwed.

I get it. Times are tough. It’s difficult to run a university when the state slashes $100 million out from under you. But please, Mr. President and Ms. Provost, call it what it is. It’s not “maintaining a quality education”; it’s trying to make sure that at least some quality is left following cuts and tuition hikes unprecedented in Arizona’s educational history. Students aren’t children anymore; neither are the faculty members. It’s time to fess up and admit what everyone already knows—that the actual “quality” of that piece of paper you get following graduation isn’t what it used to be…and it’s only going to get worse in Arizona.

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Tuition vs. net cost, and the question of financial aid

By Shain Bergan

Becky Pallack made an interesting post on her Campus Correspondent blog for the Arizona Daily Star on Tuesday.

Short but sweet, Pallack points out that while everyone is focused on the impending dramatic increase in University of Arizona tuition and fees, they may actually want to take a closer look at net cost of attendance—that is, the cost after the help typically provided by the UA Office of Financial Aid.

The post on the Campus Correspondent references these numbers as the Arizona Board of Regents’ figures for net tuition paid by the average UA student:

“2006-07 $1,297

2007-08 $1,801

2008-09 $1,977”

Here’s the interesting part: Pallack says that the net cost of attendance is rising even faster than the tuition sticker price. UA President Robert Shelton and ABOR’s defense of the rising tuition over the past several months has been that while tuition itself will rise, financial aid will increase even more, actually making UA attendance more affordable for the majority of students, especially those under or around the poverty level.

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Uncontested: Apathy race between Faculty Senate and ASUA elections too close to call

Sitting on these bleachers are the members of the UA faculty who followed through on their promise to push for new faculty leadership.

By Shain Bergan

Hmmm, this election apathy seems familiar.

After a painstaking process, the official final nominations for the 2010 University of Arizona Faculty Senate elections are finally officially in, and the verdict is, well, less than inspiring:

Of the 15 colleges represented by the UA Faculty Senate, only one of them (The College of Fine Arts) has a contested election. One of them (Eller College of Management) has exactly zero nominees. And for the 29 seats that are up for grabs, there are a total of…29 candidates.

Not only are the executive positions without contestation, the faculty will have the EXACT SAME LEADERSHIP at the top. Your executive faculty leadership nominees:

-Chair of the Faculty: Wanda Howell, incumbent

-Vice Chair of the Faculty: Robert Mitchell, incumbent

-Secretary of the Faculty: J.C. Mutchler, incumbent

What’s the definition of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Apparently the faculty can really talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk.

Here’s the breakdown of the colleges and their nominees for the upcoming election, for which the voting deadline is Mar. 4. An asterisk denotes a candidate who will clinch a Faculty Senate seat as long as they can gather one, count ’em, one vote. A contested election is marked in red text:

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A streetcar named desire-to-build-dorms-downtown

"Don't play coy with me, dame. I know you made downtown plans with President Shelton!" - A Streetcar Named Desire

By Shain Bergan

There were some real knee-slappers at a press conference Thursday in downtown Tucson, where scores of government officials and their cronies patted each other on the backs incessantly following the awarding of $63 million to proceed with a plan that would connect the University of Arizona with downtown via a streetcar line, effective 2012.

Normally, this would be the part where we would relay to you a link of the story, but seeing as one has not been released yet by the Arizona Daily Wildcat or the Arizona Daily Star, I’ve written one myself, as I was there:

Here’s the link for the straight news story on the subject. (Note: You can also get to it via

Read further on in this post for reaction and analysis:

The first bit of hilarity came from Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who said, “We have a vision for what we want for the future.”

Don’t say it. Don’t say it.

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UA degrees: Coming soon to a community college near you!

The working template for future UA diplomas.

By Shain Bergan

So, this happened.

Basically, the story in the Arizona Daily Wildcat chronicles Arizona Board of Regents President Ernest Calderon’s presentation of the Regents’ plan to make college more affordable via, well, delaying students’ college experience. Well, kind of…

More specifically, Calderon would like Arizona’s universities to implement a three-plus-one system, meaning that the first two years of a student’s college experience at the University of Arizona would actually be at Tucson-based Pima Community College, with the third year still at community college, but with university curriculum. Apparently only the fourth year would actually take place on the UA campus.

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Climategate revisited: Is the UA out of the scandal yet?

Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, a UA scientist connected to the Climategate scandal

By Shain Bergan

UA President Robert Shelton may want to rethink his claims against critics of the “research” uncovered by scientists around the world who have been charged (in the court of public opinion) with sensationalizing scientific climate research. The scientists in question were said to have manipulated data associated with climate change (a hot-button topic) to reflect their own political interests.

In other words, the data arguably didn’t show much of a global warming impact, but the scientists supposedly wanted to make it look like there was a definite connection anyway, as uncovered by emails and documents that can be seen on this nifty site.

These scientists were made up of respected members of the science community from around the world, including the University of Arizona. For some reason, the Arizona Daily Star’s links are gone, but luckily, was able to save this Star article about the scandal, and here’s a good Tucson Citizen story on the matter.

One of the UA scientists tied to the scandal is Dr. Jonathan Overpeck.

As it turns out, the “findings” of the Climate Research Unit at the central university associated with the so-called “Climategate” scandal are being reviewed and may be challenged by a group of independent scientists, who will be brought on by the school.

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UA Faculty Senate Elections: The more things change…

…the more things stay the same. Come and see:

By Shain Bergan

With petitions for those wanting to run in the Spring 2010 University of Arizona Faculty Senate Elections due in just a few short days on Feb. 14, the petitions are rolling in slowly but surely. Today marks the first release of the petitions that have so far been turned in, acquired by the WatchCat News-Journal via a public records request to University Communications.

Keep in mind that in all likelihood, most of the faculty running in this election have yet to turn in their complete paperwork. After all, they have until the rest of this week, plus the weekend. This is a good start, though. The first round of Faculty Senate nominees are as follows:

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