But UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s time is now and she brings a new mix of talents and vision to the job.
Inaugurated as the UA's 21st president on Nov. 30, 2012, Hart has both depth and breadth, with life experience as an administrator, researcher, negotiator, public school teacher, musician and wilderness explorer.
She has led academia at the highest levels and simultaneously raised a large family who clearly adore her as a wife, mother and grandmother. She is decisive yet inclusive, strategic yet flexible, creative and inspiring yet also practical, fair, graceful and courageous.
One of her explicit goals is to evaluate the UA’s policies and practices while retaining its core values. Some people consider universities to be slow moving and bureaucratic, but Arizonans should know that in six months, Hart has prioritized new ideas for UA-led solutions in healthcare, STEM fields and programs addressing workforce shortages. She intends to invest in UA start-ups through Tech Launch Arizona and cutting-edge academic models, such as the new veterinary medical degree.
Hart spoke in her inaugural address of becoming a university that measures its success from the outside in, rather than the inside out. She intends to ask about and listen to community needs, including the need to be accessible to an increasingly diverse student body. Her objective is student-centered education that includes scholarship, inquiry, creativity or service.
She champions the UA’s land-grant mission. Historically, “extension” has been about translating research to farmers and ranchers, but Hart sees it more broadly and plans to expand it in imaginative ways.
Researchers from every academic discipline – including science, humanities and the arts, business, law and medicine – can be part of outreach.
Arizona’s businesses have long benefited from the University, including one in my own family. My late parents launched a company in Tucson and many UA-educated engineers helped give it the competitive edge to rise to global prominence. Nearly all Burr-Brown’s sales were outside the state, but the profits stayed here, taxes were paid here, and the good jobs were here – more than 6,000 over time. Hart is focused on setting the stage for more stories like this.
The UA is poised for great progress and has a leader ready to deliver, but our support is critical to its success.
Commit yourselves to the UA, for as Hart said in her inaugural address, “you may never know just how far the gift of your influence will reach.”
Written by UA alumna Sarah Smallhouse, who is president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, which consist of the Thomas R. Brown Foundation and the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation. Smallhouse also serves on numerous UA and community-based boards. In 2009, she was named Woman of the Year by the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.