University of Arizona | History and definition of the University of Arizona | University of Arizona Logo

The University of Arizona (also referred to as UA, U of A, or Arizona) is a land-grant and space-grant public institution of higher education and research located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. The University of Arizona was the first university in the state of Arizona, founded in 1885 (twenty-seven years before the Arizona Territory achieved statehood). The university includes the University of Arizona College of Medicine which is one of three medical schools and the only MD granting medical school in Arizona. As of Fall 2009, total enrollment was 38,767 students. The University of Arizona is governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The mission of the University of Arizona is, "To discover, educate, serve, and inspire." Arizona is one of the elected members of the Association of American Universities (an organization of North America's premier research institutions) and is the only representative from the state of Arizona to this group. It has been recognized as a Public Ivy.

The University of Arizona was approved by the Arizona Territory's "Thieving Thirteenth" Legislature in 1885. The city of Tucson had hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory's mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory's only university (Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but at the time it was created as Arizona's normal school, and not a university). Tucson's contingent of legislators was delayed in reaching Prescott due to flooding on the Salt River and by the time they arrived back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had already been made. Tucson was largely disappointed at receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize. With no parties willing to step forth and provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature 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 in Old Main, the first building constructed on campus, and still in use to this day. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the University maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.

A downturn in Arizona's economy in the 2000s led to less money being allocated by the state legislature to Arizona's universities. Academic programs were hard-hit, and the university was forced to consider extensive changes, beginning in 2001. As a result, a reorganization known as Focused Excellence aimed 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. However, efforts to improve academic performance and to encourage new research areas were not enough to prevent a number of key departures from the faculty in the early 2000s, and budgets remain restricted. Focused Excellence was quietly wound up in 2006 and its website removed, but President Robert Shelton's Dec. 2006 message to the University suggested further retrenchment is essential in the light of funding cuts.

The University of Arizona offers 334 fields of study leading to bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees. Academic departments and programs are organized into colleges and schools. The university maintains a current list of colleges and schools at 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. In 2004, there were discussions with students and faculty may lead the UA toward using a plus-minus grading system in the future.As of July 2010 the university still uses the 4-points scale.

The Eller College of Management's programs in Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Management Information Systems, Management and Organizations and Marketing are ranked in the nation's top 25 by U.S. News & World Report. The Masters in MIS program has been ranked in the top 5 by U.S. News & World Report since the inception of the rankings. 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 40th by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes Magazine ranked the Eller MBA program 33rd overall for having the best Return on Investment (ROI), in its fourth biennial rankings of business schools 2005. The MBA program was ranked 24th by The Wall Street Journal's 2005 Interactive Regional Ranking. 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 USD for the school, exceeded that goal by $200 million a year earlier than projected. The National Science Foundation ranks UA 16th among public universities, and 26th among all universities nationwide in research funding.

The James E. Rogers College of Law was ranked 42nd nationally and the University of Arizona College of Medicine was ranked 51st nationally in primary care by U.S. News & World Report in for 2011. The College of Medicine was also ranked No. 7 among the nation's medical schools for Hispanic students, according to Hispanic Business Magazine. The Systems and Industrial Engineering (SIE) Department is ranked 10th in the 'America's Best Graduate Schools 2009' by US News and World Report. The analytical chemistry program at UA is ranked 4th nationally by U.S. News & World Report (2006). The Geosciences program is ranked 7th nationally by U.S. News & World Report in 2006. The Doctor of Pharmacy program at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is ranked 4th nationally by U.S. News & World Report in 2005. The Photography program is ranked 9th nationally, also by U.S. News & World Report in 2008. The Philosophy program is ranked 13th nationally by the Philosophical Gourmet Report, and tied for 1st in Political Philosophy. Internationally, the 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked University of Arizona 95th in the world and the 2010 QS World University Rankings ranked this university 160th. In its May 2009 issue, Playboy magazine ranked UA the fifth best party school in the nation.

In 2009, the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture's (CALA) undergraduate program in architecture has been ranked 12th in the nation for all universities, public and private, as reported in Design Intelligence. The School of Landscape Architecture's graduate program has been ranked No. 1 in the Western United States. The 10th annual America's Best Architecture Schools study by the Design Futures Council ranks accredited undergraduate and graduate programs from the perspective of leading practitioners.

The School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona is one of the most highly ranked area studies programs focusing on the Middle East in the United States. In addition to offering language training in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish (both Modern and Ottoman), it is collocated with the Middle East Studies Association.

Arizona is classified as a Carnegie Foundation "RU/VH: Research Universities (very high research activity)" university (formerly "Research 1" university). The university receives more than $600 million USD annually in research funding, generating around two thirds of the research dollars in the Arizona university system. 26th highest in the U.S. (including public and private institutions). The university has an endowment of $480.2 million USD as of 2010.

The U of A is awarded more NASA grants for space exploration than any other university nationally. The UA was awarded over $325 million USD for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA's 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic. The LPL's work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than that of any other university globally. The U of A laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The UA operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. UA receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory-funded universities combined. As of June 2011, the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in five spacecraft missions: Cassini; the Phoenix Mars Lander; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the MESSENGER mission to Mercury and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample return mission to an asteroid, which was just selected by NASA. UA students have been selected as Flinn, Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, Fulbright, and National Meritscholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UA is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

UA is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory located just outside of Tucson. UA is a member of the Association of American Universities, and the sole representative from Arizona to this group. Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at UA are working in concert to build the world's most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope, the instrument will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope. The telescope is set to be completed in 2016 at a cost of $500 million USD. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world's current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at the U of A and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Primary Investigator is scientist Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This NASA mission to Mars carried a UA-designed camera expected to capture the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. The project is expected to be in its Primary Science Phase in the month of October. Currently operating on the surface of Mars is the Lander known as the Phoenix Scout Mission, led by the U of A Scientist Peter Smith. The mission's purpose is to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. After a successful landing on Mars in May 2008, it is the first NASA mission completely controlled by a university. The Arizona Radio Observatory, a part of Steward Observatory, operates the 12 Meter Telescope on Kitt Peak and the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

In 2005, the Association of Research Libraries, in its "Ranked Lists for Institutions for 2005" (the most recent year available), ranked the UA libraries as the 33rd overall university library in North America (out of 113) based on various statistical measures of quality; this is one rank below the library of Duke University, one rank ahead of that of Northwestern University. (both these schools are members, along with the UA, of the Association of American Universities).

As of 2009, the UA's library system contains over five million print volumes, 600,000 electronic books, and 54,000 electronic journals. The Main Library, opened in 1976, serves as the library system's reference, periodical, and administrative center; most of the main collections and special collections are housed here as well. The Main Library is located on the southeast quadrant of campus near McKale Center and Arizona Stadium.

In 2002, a $20 million, 100,000-square-foot (10,000 m2) addition, the Integrated Learning Center (ILC), was completed; it is a home base for first-year students (especially those undecided on a major) which features classrooms, auditoriums, a courtyard with an alcove for vending machines, and a greatly expanded computer lab (the Information Commons) with several dozen Gateway and Apple Macintosh G5 workstations (these computers are available for use by the general public (with some restrictions) as well as by UA students, faculty and staff). Much of the ILC was constructed underground, underneath the east end of the Mall; the ILC connects to the basement floor of the Main Library through the Information Commons. As part of the project, additional new office space for the Library was constructed on the existing fifth floor.

The Science and Engineering Library is in a nearby building from the 1960s that houses volumes and periodicals from those fields. The Music Building (on the northwest quadrant of campus where many of the fine arts disciplines are clustered) houses the Fine Arts Library, including reference collections for architecture, music (including sheet music, recordings and listening stations), and photography. There is a small library at the Center for Creative Photography, also in the fine arts complex, devoted to the art and science of photography. The Law Library is in the law building (James E. Rogers College of Law), located at the intersection of Speedway Boulevard and Mountain Avenue.

The main campus sits on 380 acres (1.5 km2) in central Tucson, about one mile (1.6 km) northeast of downtown. There are 179 buildings on the main campus. Many of the early buildings, including the Arizona State Museum buildings (one of them the 1927 main library) and Centennial Hall, were designed by Roy Place, a prominent Tucson architect. It was Place's use of red brick that set the tone for the red brick facades that are a basic and ubiquitous part of nearly all UA buildings, even those built in recent decades. Indeed, almost every UA building has red brick as a major component of the design, or at the very least, a stylistic accent to harmonize it with the other buildings on campus.

The campus is roughly divided into quadrants. The north and south sides of campus are delineated by a grassy expanse called the Mall, which stretches from Old Main eastward to the campus' eastern border at Campbell Avenue (a major north-south arterial street). The west and east sides of campus are separated roughly by Highland Avenue and the Student Union Memorial Center (see below).

The science and mathematics buildings tend to be clustered in the southwest quadrant; the intercollegiate athletics facilities to the southeast; the arts and humanities buildings to the northwest (with the dance department being a major exception as its main facilities are far to the east end of campus), with the engineering buildings in the north central area. The optical and space sciences buildings are clustered on the east side of campus near the sports stadiums and the (1976) main library.

Speedway Boulevard, one of Tucson's primary east-west arterial streets, traditionally defined the northern boundary of campus but since the 1980s, several university buildings have been constructed north of this street, expanding into a neighborhood traditionally filled with apartment complexes and single-family homes. The University has purchased a handful of these apartment complexes for student housing in recent years. Sixth Street typically defines the southern boundary, with single-family homes (many of which are rented out to students) south of this street.

Park Avenue has traditionally defined the western boundary of campus, and there is a stone wall which runs along a large portion of the east side of the street, leading to the old Main Gate, and into the driveway leading to Old Main. Along or adjacent to all of these major streets are a wide variety of retail facilities serving the student, faculty and staff population (as is the case in other similar university neighborhoods throughout the United States): shops, bookstores, bars, banks, credit unions, coffeehouses and major chain fast-food restaurants such as Wendy's, McDonald's and Pei Wei. The area near University Boulevard and Park Avenue, near the Main Gate, has been a major center of such retail activity going back to the university's early decades; many shops dating from the 1920s have been renovated since the late 1990s, other new retail shops have been built in recent years, and a nine-story Marriott hotel was built in this immediate district in 1996.

The oldest campus buildings are located west of Old Main. Most of the buildings east of Old Main date from the 1940s to the 1980s, with a few recent buildings constructed in the years since 1990.

The Student Union Memorial Center, located on the north side of the Mall east of Old Main, was completely reconstructed between 2000 and 2003, replacing a 270,000-square-foot (25,000 m2) structure originally opened in 1951 (with additions in the 1960s). The new $60 million student union has 405,000 square feet (37,600 m2) of space on four levels, including 14 restaurants (including a food court with such national chains as Burger King, Panda Express, Papa John's Pizza and Chick-fil-A), a new two-level bookstore (that includes a counter for Clinique merchandise as well as an office supplies section sponsored by Staples with many of the same Staples-branded items found in their regular stores), 23 meeting rooms, eight lounge areas (including one dedicated to the USS Arizona), a computer lab, a U.S. Post Office, a copy center named Fast Copy, and a video arcade. A bell housed on the USS Arizona, one of the two bells rescued from the ship after the attack on Pearl Harbor, has a permanent home in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center on campus. The bell first arrived on campus in July 1946. The bell is rung seven times on the third Wednesday of every month at 12:07 pm – symbolic of the battleship's sinking on Dec. 7, 1941 – to honor individuals at the UA, as well as after home football games.

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. (The university also manages Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, located in rural Pinal County about 85 miles (137 km) 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 Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, opened in 2003 (across the Mall from McKale Center) as a 28,600-square-foot (2,660 m2) dedicated performance venue for the UA's dance program, one of the most highly regarded university dance departments in the United States. Designed by Gould Evans, a Phoenix-based architectural firm, the theatre was awarded the 2003 Citation Award from the American Institute of Architects, Arizona Chapter.

The Computer Science department has setup a webcam that provides a live feed of the campus as seen from the top of the Gould Simpson building.

The Berger Memorial Fountain at the west entrance of Old Main honors the UA students who lost their lives in World War I, and dates back to 1919.

The University of Arizona, like its sister institutions Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, is governed by the Arizona Board of Regents or the ABOR, a 12-member body. According to information published by the ABOR office and available on their Web site, eight volunteer members are appointed by the Governor to staggered eight-year terms; two students serve on the Board for two-year appointments, with the first year being a nonvoting apprentice year. The Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction serve as voting ex-officio members. The ABOR provides "policy guidance" and oversight to the three major degree-granting universities, as provided for by Title 15 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.

The current and 19th university president is Robert N. Shelton, whose term began in 2006. The former president, Peter Likins, vacated his post at the conclusion of the 2005–06 academic term. Notable past UA presidents include Likins, Manuel Pacheco (the first person of Hispanic descent to lead the university and for whom the Integrated Learning Center is named), Homer L. Shantz, Henry Koffler, John Schaefer, and Richard Harvill. Shelton will be resigning before the fall 2011 semester.

There are currently (2005) 44 fraternity and sorority chapters that are recognized by the University of Arizona. As of 2006, approximately 10.3% of male UA students were members of campus fraternities, and 10.8% of female students were members of sororities. The fraternities and sororities are governed by 4 governing councils. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) represents 25 fraternities, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) represents 6 historically African-American fraternities and sororities, the Panhellenic Association (PHC) represents 20 sororities and the United Sorority and Fraternity Council (USFC) represents 10 multicultural and multi-interest Greek organizations. Delta Chi Lambda is an Asian American sorority that was established at the University of Arizona in 2000.

In 2008 University of Arizona students started their own branch (reinstated as of April 21, 2010) of the Arizona Students for Life (ASFL) pro-life association, whose goal is to help pregnant college women and raise awareness about elective abortion, of which college women are half all those affected.

The University of Arizona is also home to one of the oldest Model United Nations organizations in the United States, which each year hosts several hundred students high school students in a bilingual simulation of the United Nations and other international bodies.

The campus comedy group, Comedy Corner is a sketch and improv comedy group at the University of Arizona. Started in 1979 by Adam Goldstein, it claims to be the nation's oldest weekly college sketch and improv comedy group, though in recent years it has branched out into doing previously videotaped comedy bits and shorts as well. Comedy Corner was the first documented college sketch comedy troupe to incorporate improvisation into its weekly shows, a practice that has become more common in recent years.

At the beginning of each school year, freshmen repaint the "A" on "A" Mountain, and since 1914 the "A" remains a Tucson and Wildcat landmark. The "A" is now painted Red, White and Blue until all troops in foreign wars steming from the September 11 attacks return home. This was passed by the ASUA student government body shortly after the war in Afghanistan began in 2001. Later in the school year, Spring Fling, an ASUA Student Government program, and the largest student-run carnival in the U.S., has been held annually by UA students since 1965, under a different name: The Rites of Spring. The event occurs every April, and brings together the U of A community and the Tucson community. The UA club, Camp Wildcat, initially began the festival as a fundraiser and continued to do so until the event was taken over by ASUA in 1975.

Overall, students at the University of Arizona have been represented by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) since 1913. Every year (usually in March), the students elect 10 Senators At-Large, an Administrative Vice President, an Executive Vice President and President to 1-year terms. The ASUA oversees the ZonaZoo and UA Spring Fling programs, while holding administrative oversight for the nearly 500 student clubs on campus. The organization appoints 4 Directors to serve on the student funded and led Arizona Students' Association. Each of the 10 Senators and all Administrative Officers also are appointed to serve on the various University of Arizona Faculty and Administrative Committees.

In 1997, the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) split from the ASUA and has since become the de-facto body to represent issues specific to graduate and professional students. Each year (usually in late March or early April), the graduate and professional students elect 30 representatives by constituency in accordance to College graduate and/or professional student population, with three of those representatives elected at large. The Vice President and President are also elected at large by the graduate and professional student body. Much like ASUA, the GPSC appoints representatives to serve on various University of Arizona Faculty and Administrative Committees and 1 Director to serve on the Arizona Students' Association.

On-Campus residents also have their own Student Leadership Organization known as the "Hall Association". Anyone who lives on campus is automatically a member of RHA. The individual subunits of RHA consist of the hall councils of all 21 residence halls. Each Hall Council is composed of a President, a Director of Programming (for social events), a Director of Operations (for administrative duties), a Director of Sustainability (for recycling duties), and two RHA Representatives who are sent to represent their hall at RHA General Body Meetings. At these meetings, the gathered representatives and RHA Executive Board, elected from within the RHA General Body, discuss issues and make decisions concerning all 6,000 on campus residents. The RHA Executive Board consists of 7 different elected positions (President, Vice President of Public Relations, National Communications Coordinator, Vice President of Finances, Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Services, and Vice President of Programming) along with an appointed Parliamentarian position and an advisor known as the Coordinator for Student Leadership.

The University of Arizona Residence Hall Association has hosted 3 regional IACURH Residence Hall Conferences, which were hosted in 1961, 1997, and 2004. In 2005, the University of Arizona's Residence Hall Association was voted by NACURH (National Association of College and University Residence Halls) as the National School of the Year out of over 400 schools across the United States. In May 2009, the University of Arizona hosted the NACURH National Residence Hall Conference (also hosted in 1963), bringing more than 2,200 on-campus residents from over 250 schools across the United States and Canada for 3 days of school spirit and learning how to become more sustainable and socially just. The conference theme (Our Place in Time) focused on sustainability and social justice within the residence halls.

The University has made itself known through many films and television appearances. The film Revenge of the Nerds (1984) was filmed at the University of Arizona. In the movie, the Alpha Beta "jock" house is the real-life home to the UA chapter of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. The dorm room (with the balcony) seen in the film is located on the third floor of historic Cochise Hall on campus. When the characters are moving in at the beginning of the movie, the dorm behind the post office drop is Yuma Hall. In the 1994 film Speed, Dennis Hopper refers to Sandra Bullock's character as a Wildcat because of the emblem on her sweater. In the 1989 film "Leviathan", Peter Weller's character, Steven Beck, frequently wears an Arizona Wildcats hat. In the 2006 film You, Me and Dupree, produced by Arizona Alum Scott Stuber, several characters are watching the Arizona Wildcats play football against Washington State University. While playing in their blue uniforms, Arizona scores on a fumble recovery. The film Eating Out was shot around the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. An episode of Little House on the Prairie, entitled "A Wiser Heart," used Old Main as a prominent backdrop throughout. The final scene of the film Night of the Lepus (1972) features views of the University. In the film The Twilight Saga: New Moon Charlie Swan is watching the Wildcats play football on TV. In the film Can't Buy Me Love, Courtney Gains is seen wearing an Arizona hat and Arizona football t-shirt in one school setting scene.

The University has also been the setting for portions of David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest takes place at the University of Arizona campus, including a scene in the administration building satirizing the school's bureaucracy. Wallace was an alumnus of UA.

Notable alumni include a former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the former U.S. Surgeon General, five-term U.S senator and 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater; U.S. Representative (Arizona's 7th congressional district) Raúl M. Grijalva; the creator of the television series "Sesame Street" and founder of the Children's Television Workshop Joan Ganz Cooney; popular female singer Linda Ronstadt, who is perhaps best known for her chart-topping songs "You're No Good" and "Blue Bayou;" Barbara Kingsolver (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1981), American author awarded the National Humanities Medal by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000; American actor and television personality who first rose to stardom as the first host of E!'s Talk Soup Greg Kinnear; a prominent doctor, Charles Rappaport, the owner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Major League Baseball team; the Chairman of the California Delegation on the 2nd White House Conference on Library and Information Services (1991) and two-term Mayor of Palm Springs, California (1995–1999 and 1999–2003) William G. Kleindienst; and several NASA astronauts. Nicole Richie, daughter of Lionel Richie and reality-television star, also attended but did not graduate. 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). The UA has eight Pulitzer Prize winners (alumni and faculty), and 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 also recently named to Popular Science magazine's list of "Brilliant 10." Also famous world renown director and producer Jerry Bruckheimer attended the University receiving a degree in psychology. Many other famous names attended the university such as reality star Kourtney Kardashian attended Arizona, NBA Laker Luke Walton, NBA Basketball player Richard Jefferson and NBA Dallas Maverick star Jason Terry.