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Outreach-Centered Efforts Abound at UA

The UA's Outreach College facilitates programs and services that meet the academic access, economic and regional development needs for communities throughout Arizona– a major tenet of the land-grant movement, and extends that mission globally.

Outreach, the namesake of the college, is an especially strong component, but not in the form of one-directional interaction. In fact, much of what the Outreach College does is largely reciprocal interdisciplinary, sharply community-centered and sometimes aimed at global collaborations in coordination with the UA’s Office of Global Initiatives.

"The land grant was about empowering individuals and communities to participate in the transformation of the American economy. That's what we do best,” said Mike Proctor, the Outreach College dean. “Our economy is now driven by both local and global forces, and we can help the state define its role.”

"Because so much of what happens in Arizona is so relevant to the rest of the world, we must work to take advantage of Arizona's strengths," Proctor said.

In addition to offering youth and senior programs, incubating programs and facilitating UA credit courses and continuing education, the Outreach College collaborates with the Office of Global Initiatives and academic departments to facilitate collaborations with partners around the world.

For example, the College worked with the Department of Management Information Systems in the UA Eller College of Management to develop a new track of the existing MIS degree program to attract students from new partner institutions that included City University of Hong Kong, Harbin Institute of Technology, and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

Quite often, the Outreach College collaborates with partners along the U.S.-Mexico border and in Mexico. Of note, UA Santa Cruz is one of eight partners on a 3-year grant of nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Rural Innovation Fund provided to Nogales Community Development, NCD, last year.

The college is one of eight partners on a three-year grant at nearly $2 million the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Rural Innovation Fund provided to the Nogales Community Development, NCD, last year. Also, the grant will fund the acquisition of building space where some of the partners will be housed to offer services and other resources.

Through a complimentary connection with Cochise Community College, which also has a center in Nogales, UA Santa Cruz offers access to degree programs, and hopes to expand that activity through this grant.

"When you are looking at revitalizing a community and at economic development, postsecondary and higher education play key roles," said Justin Dutram, outreach coordinator for UA Santa Cruz, a regional UA learning center in Nogales.

"Nogales already has a great competitive advantage being on the border, but we need to help the residents catch up in terms of education in logistics, and workforce development in other key areas," Dutram also said.

In addition to its work with the NCD, UA Santa Cruz has worked with other community organizations in the southern Arizona and northern Mexico region on other fronts. One new initiative is underway to eventually connect those within Mexico's maquiladora industry with higher education opportunities.

"There are several Fortune 500 companies that have plants in Nogales, Mexico, and there also is a growing aerospace presence in Sonora," Dutram said. "There is a huge opportunity there that we are beginning to explore." 

The college facilitates similar conversations locally across Arizona and with UA partners around the world, encouraging and coordinating initiatives to address critical societal issues. "The Morrill Act is about providing opportunities for individuals to participate it the transformation of the American economy," Proctor said. "That empowerment happens in the lab, it happens in the classroom and it happens in the community. It's about empowering people, and it's about impact."

Photo credit: Kevin Brost