University of Arizona

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The University of Arizona (UA) is a land-grant institution of higher learning located in Tucson, Arizona. The University of Arizona was the first university in the state of Arizona, founded in 1885 when the state was still a territory. In 2005, total enrollment was 37,036 students.

Academically, the UA is strong in many areas, and is particularly well known for its research in optical science, astronomy and astrophysics, hydrology, philosophy, and anthropology. The UA also has a top tier law school, and a top 20 undergraduate management & business school in the U.S., public or private. Arizona is classified as a Carnegie Foundation "Doctoral/Research Universities—Extensive" university, and has excellent facilities, particularly in the sciences and engineering disciplines.

The university receives more than $400 million annually in research funding, generating nearly 75 percent of the research dollars in the Arizona university system. This figure is triple the total research funds generated by Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University combined, and 26th highest in the U.S. (including public and private institutions).

The university is home to Arizona's only medical school, which awards an M.D.. Nobel laureates on the faculty include two members of the College of Optical Sciences: Dr. Nicolaas Bloembergen (Physics, 1981) and Dr. Willis E. Lamb (Physics, 1955). Coupled with eight Pulitzer Prize winners (alumni and faculty), the UA has more than 50 faculty as elected members of exclusive academies including Britain's Royal Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others. Two current UA professors were recently named to Popular Science magazine's list of "Brilliant 10."

The UA was recently awarded in excess of $325 million to lead the 2007 mission to Mars. The school's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory's work in the Cassini orbit around Saturn is greater than that of any other university globally.

The UA is a national university, with students hailing from all states in the U.S.. While nearly 72 percent of students are from Arizona, 8 percent are from California, followed by a significant student presence from Illinois, Texas, and Washington (2004). The UA has approximately 2,200 international students representing 135 countries. International students comprise approximately 6 percent of the total enrollment at UA.

The current and 18th university president is Peter Likins, whose term began in 1997. President Likins will vacate his post at the conclusion of the 2005-06 academic term.

Reputation and rankings

The Council for Aid to Education ranked the UA 12th among public universities and 24th overall in financial support and gifts. Campaign Arizona, an effort to raise over $1 billion for the school, significantly exceeded $1 billion, and reached its goal a year earlier than projected.

The National Science Foundation ranks UA 16th among public universities, and 26th among all universities nationwide in research funding. UA is the only school in Arizona (and one of only 62 institutions) to belong to the Association of American Universities.

In terms of comprehensive rankings, U.S. News & World Report placed UA 45th nationally among the public institutions, and 97th overall, in the publication's 2006 Guide to Colleges[1].

The Eller College of Management's programs in Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Management Information Systems, and Marketing are ranked in the nation's top 25 by U.S. News & World Report. The Eller College was ranked 18th in the nation (including public and private institutions) by U.S. News & World Report in 2005, the highest ranking college in the university. The Masters in MIS program has been ranked in the top 5 by US News and World Report since the inception of the rankings. It is one of three programs to have this distinction.

The Eller MBA program has ranked among the top 50 programs for 11 straight years by U.S. News & World Report. In 2005 the MBA program was ranked #40 by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes Magazine ranked the Eller MBA program #33 overall for having the best Return on Investment (ROI), in its fourth biennial rankings of business schools 2005. The MBA program was ranked #24 by The Wall Street Journal's 2005 Interactive Regional Ranking.

In 2005, UA was ranked 73rd in the world and 47th in North America by an annual listing of the Top 500 World Universities published by the Institute of Higher Education in Shanghai, China.

UA students have been selected as Flinn, Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, Fulbright, and National Merit scholars.

Founding of the university

The University of Arizona was approved by the Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1885. Ironically, the city of Tucson had hoped to receive the appropriation for the state's mental hospital, which carried a sum of money slightly larger than the $25,000 allotted to the state's only university (Arizona State University was founded at the same time, but it was created as the state's normal school). Tucson, having a smaller contingent of legislators than cities like Prescott and Phoenix, ended up with last pick and got the university, which disappointed city residents. With no one willing to step forth to provide land for the institution, the citizens of the city prepared to return the money to the territory until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land necessary to build the school. Classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students.


Like many large public universities in the USA, sports are a major activity on campus, and receive a large operating budget (sometimes disproportionate, academics argue, although the athletic department has been self suficient since the early part of this century). Arizona's sports teams are called the Wildcats. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-A and in the Pacific Ten Conference.

The men's basketball team has been one of the nation's most successful programs since Lute Olson was hired as head coach in 1983. Since then, the team has had 18 consecutive 20-win seasons, and reached the NCAA Tournament 21 years in a row, which is the longest active and second-longest streak in NCAA history (University of North Carolina, 27). Lute has taken the Wildcats to the Final Four 4 times. In 1997, Arizona beat the defending champion, the University of Kentucky Wildcats, to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The football team was moderately successful in the 90s under head coach Dick Tomey and his "Desert Swarm" defense that was characterized by tough, hard-nosed tactics. In 1993, the Wildcats had their first 10-win season and drubbed the powerhouse University of Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl by a score of 29-0. In 1998, the team posted a school-record 12-1 season and made the Holiday Bowl in which they defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Arizona ended that season ranked #3 nationally and #2 in several publications. The University of Arizona is the only school between the Pac-10 and the Big Ten not make an appearance in the Rose Bowl.

The baseball team won several national championships in the 70s and 80s (1976, 1980, and 1986) and the softball team is perennially ranked as one of the best in the nation. The softball team has won six Women's College World Series titles, in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, and 2001.

The golf team has also been quite successful. The men's team won a championship in 1992, while the women's team won championships in 1996 and 2000.

Three championships for synchronized swimming were won in 1980, 1981, and 1984, though these championships were in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, and not the NCAA.

A number of notable individuals have also won national championships in the NCAA. These include Amanda Beard in 2001 for swimming and Annika Sörenstam in 1991 in golf.


A strong academic and athletic rivalry exists between the University of Arizona and Arizona State University located in Tempe. Rivalries have also been created with other Pac-10 teams especially University of California, Los Angeles which has provided a worthy softball rival and was Arizona's main basketball rival in the early and mid-90s. Since that time, however, UCLA has fallen off somewhat while Arizona has maintained its basketball prowess, appearing most recently in the Elite Eight of the 2005 NCAA tournament.


The University mascot is an anthropomorphized wildcat named Wilbur. The identity of Wilbur is kept secret through the year as the mascot appears only in costume. In 1986, Wilbur married his longtime wildcat girlfriend, Wilma. Together, Wilbur and Wilma appear along with the cheerleading squad at most Wildcat sporting events.

Notable venues

McKale Center, opened in 1973, is currently used by men's and women's basketball, women's gymnastics, and women's volleyball. The official capacity has changed often. The largest crowd to see a game in McKale was 15,176 in 1976 for a game against the University of New Mexico, a main rival in that period. In 2000, the floor in McKale was dubbed Lute Olson Court, for the basketball team's winningest coach. During a memorial service in 2001 for Lute's wife, Bobbi, who'd passed away after a battle with ovarian cancer, the floor was renamed Lute and Bobbi Olson Court. In addition to the playing surface, McKale Center is host to the offices of the U of A athletic department. McKale Center is named after J.F. Pop McKale, who was athletic director and coach from 1914 through 1957.

Arizona Stadium, built in 1928, seats over 56,000 patrons. It hosts American football games and has also been used for university graduations. The turf is bermuda grass, taken from the local Tucson National Golf Club. Arizona football's home record is 258-139-12. The largest crowd ever in Arizona Stadium was 59,920 in 1996 for a game against ASU.

Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium hosts baseball games.

Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium hosts softball games.

Academic subdivisions

The University of Arizona's academic departments and programs are organized into colleges and schools. Typically, schools are largely independent or separately important from their parent college. In addition, not all schools are a part of a college. The university maintains a current list of colleges and schools at

Campus museums

For current museum hours, fees, and directions see "campus visitor's guide" in the external links.

  • Much of the main campus has been designated an arboretum. Plants from around the world are labeled along a self-guided plant walk. The Krutch Cactus Garden includes the tallest Boojum tree in the state of Arizona[1]. (The university also manages Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, located c. 85 miles north of the main campus.)
  • Two herbaria are located on the University campus and both are referred to as "ARIZ" in the Index Herbariorum
    • The University of Arizona Herbarium - contains roughly 400,000 specimens of plants.
    • The Robert L. Gilbertson Mycological Herbarium - contains more than 40,000 specimens of fungi.
  • The Center for Creative Photography features rotating exhibits. The permanent collection includes over 70,000 photos.
  • UA Museum of Art.
  • The Arizona Historical Society is located one block west of campus.

Current state of the university

  • A downturn in Arizona's economy in the 2000s, coupled to more severe impacts following the September 11, 2001 attacks, led to less money being allocated from state revenues to Arizona's universities. Academic programs were hard-hit, and the university was forced to consider extensive changes, beginning in 2002. As a result, a reorganization known as "Focused Excellence" aims to focus the mission of the university on research, graduate training, and more selective undergraduate education, in part, by eliminating and merging less popular and low-revenue academic departments. The closure of some programs, notably the innovative Arizona International College and the School of Planning, provoked widespread protest. There are plans to restrict undergraduate entry to the more able students, thus distinguishing the university from its larger competitor, Arizona State University. However efforts to improve academic performance and to encourage new research areas were not enough to stem a number of key departures from the academic staff in the early 2000s, and budgets are still tight.
  • The University of Arizona is the only remaining PAC-10 conference school to not award plus and minus grades for courses. Currently, grades are given on a strict 4-point scale with "A" worth 4, "B" worth 3, "C" worth 2, "D" worth 1 and "E" worth zero points. This creates demands by students on academic staff to award "A"s and "B" grades, so that their overal GPAs do not suffer. Discussions with students and faculty may lead the U of A towards using a plus-minus grading system in the future. Administrators say that the change could occur as early as Fall 2006. [2]
  • Uncertainty currently surrounds the future of common commencement ceremonies for the entire student body. Critics of the large ceremony argue that the event has become marred by misbehavior of graduates; the administration has vowed to cancel undergraduate commencement in favor of individual college convocations if behavior does not improve. Partially at issue is the tradition in which graduates fling tortillas into the air (in a manner similar to throwing mortarboards) during the ceremony. Critics of this behavior argue it is disruptive, potentially dangerous, offensive to Mexican-Americans, and insensitive to the plight of the hungry and needy. Proponents of tortilla throwing argue it is a harmless and fun tradition.[3] The future of commencement ceremonies at the University of Arizona will remain uncertain pending the decision of the university administration.

Recognized fraternities and sororities of the Greek System

There are currently (2005) 44 fraternity and sorority chapters that are recognized by the University of Arizona. The fraternities and sororities are governed by 3 governing councils. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) represents 20 fraternities, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) represents 6 historically African-American fraternities and sororities, and the Panhellenic Association (PHC) represents 18 sororities. The university maintains a full list of recognized fraternities and sororities as well as a map that highlights the locations of fraternity and sorority houses at

Recognized student clubs and organizations

A new and expansive Student Union building [4], opened in 2003 as the largest student union in the U.S. not connected to a hotel. The University of Arizona is home to more than 500 philanthropic, multi-cultural, social, atheltic, academic, and student clubs and campus organizations. A listing is found at Center For Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL), through the Student Union.

CSIL also houses the Arizona Blue Chip Program, one of the largest collegiate-level leadership development programs in the United States, with over 500 active students at any one time throughout the 4 years of the program. Blue Chip was founded in 1999 and has become so successful that an international partnership has been formed with the Univerity of Wollongong, in Wollongong, Australia where a sister program, the Black Opal Leadership Development Program, began in February, 2005. Structure, curriculum, students and even staff are exchanged between the two institutions in a unique international leadership development initiative.

The large size of the university and a generally student-friendly administration provides for an environment where many diverse and unique clubs can thrive. Through funding from the CSIL and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, clubs are given the resources and encouragement to explore unusual interests.

Student government representation

The students at the University of Arizona have, since 1917, been represented by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, or ASUA. Representation is elected by the students every year (usually in March).


  • The University of Arizona is called Arizona nałtsoos ízisgo baa ótad in Western Apache, a language spoken in Arizona.
  • On April 24, 2005, an article by John Merrow entitled The Undergraduate Experience: Survival of the Fittest appeared in the New York Times. The article presented the disadvantages that some freshman and poorly performing students face at large educational institutions such as the University of Arizona. The University of Arizona administration has responded to the negative publicity of the article on the grounds that the article does not accurately depict the typical experience of most university students. The article takes exception to the University's size and population by criticizing the admission of 83% of applicants to the University. The article also criticizes large class sizes and resulting virtual anonymity of the students in these classes. In contrast to the picture presented by the New York Times article, the University of Arizona admissions office website reports that less than 4% of classes are larger than 100 students and the average class size is 29.[5]
  • The current school colors are cardinal red and navy blue. Before 1900, the colors were sage green and silver. The switch was made when a discount on red and blue jerseys was made available.
  • The bell housed on the USS Arizona was rescued from the ship after the attack on Pearl Harbor and has a permanent home in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center on campus. The bell is rung after football victories over all schools not located in Arizona.

Notable faculty and staff

Notable alumni and former students

Law, politics, and government

Arts & media




External links

Template:Pacific Ten Conference

de:University of Arizona ja:アリゾナ大学 sv:University of Arizona