The University of Arizona in Tucson is a public land-grant research university. First founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature.
The university is in the AAU and the URA. It’s the only Arizonan in the first. The university is a “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity” institution. The Arizona Board of Regents governs the University of Arizona. As of 2021, the university enrolled 49,471 students in 19 colleges/schools, including the UA College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). In 2021, the University of Arizona acquired Ashford University and renamed it The University of Arizona Global Campus.
The Arizona Wildcats (or “Cats”) are members of the NCAA’s Pac-12 Conference. The UA has won national titles in basketball, baseball, and softball. The school’s colors are cardinal red and navy blue.
The Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 fueled calls for an Arizona university. Arizona’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved the University of Arizona in 1885 and chose Tucson to build it. Tucson wanted the $100,000 for the territory’s mental hospital instead of the $25,000 for the territory’s only university (Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but as a normal school, not a university). [Note: Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and when they reached Prescott, back-room deals had already been made. Tucson was disappointed with the prize it won.
Tucson’s citizens were ready to return the money to the territorial legislature when two gamblers and a saloon keeper donated land for the school. Construction of Old Main, the first campus building, began on October 27, 1887. Classes began in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Since there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years. [Note:
On April 17, 2020, the University of Arizona announced temporary pay cuts and furloughs to 15,000 employees as its Tucson campus closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All employees making up to $150,000 were furloughed, with length based on salary. For those making over $150,000, pay cuts of 17% or 20% were implemented. In 2020, the University of Arizona bought Ashford University from Zovio and renamed it The UA Global Campus.
UA offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees. A is worth 4, B 3, C 2, D 1, and E is worth zero.
The Center for World University Rankings ranked Arizona 52 in the world and 34 in the U.S. in 2017. 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked UA 161st and 2017/18 QS ranked it 230th.
In 2015, Design Intelligence ranked CALA’s undergraduate architecture program 10th among public and private universities. The same publication ranked UA 20th in undergraduate architecture.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the UA is selective. In 2014-2015, 68 freshmen were National Merit Scholars.
Students come from all 50 states. Nearly 69% of students are from Arizona, 11% are from California, and 8% are international. Texas, Illinois, Washington, Colorado, and New York also have a large student body (fall 2013).
The University of Arizona charges residents $12,700 for fall and spring semesters and non-residents $37,200. As in other states, tuition has risen due to less government support and more administrative staff than teachers. Undergraduate tuition guarantees for 2014 enrollees will remain at $11,591 for residents and $30,745 for non-residents through 2018–19. Incoming bachelor’s degree students are eligible for the Guaranteed Tuition Program and won’t see tuition increases for 8 semesters (four years). Guaranteed Tuition doesn’t cover summer and winter rates.
The UA W.A. Franke Honors College creates a smaller community feel like a liberal arts college within a large research institution. In 1962, 75 students were admitted; in 2016–2017, 5,508 were enrolled. The main Honors College offices are at N Fremont Ave and E Mabel St in the new Honors Village. It was renamed after William A. “Bill” Franke, his wife Carolyn, and the Franke family gave $25 million.
Arizona has “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.” In FY2018, the university spent $687.1 million on research. NASA ranks Arizona’s public university fourth for research. The UA was awarded $325 million to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid. LPL’s work on Cassini’s Saturn orbit is larger than any other university’s. The U of A lab designed and operated the probe’s atmospheric radiation imaging.
UA operates MRO’s HiRISE camera. NASA confirmed UA alumnus Lujendra Ojha’s 2011 discovery of liquid water on Mars in 2015. UA receives more NASA grants than the next nine universities combined. As of March 2016[update], the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; Juno orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the Sun; Solar Probe Plus, the first mission into the Sun’s atmosphere; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx
Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars from UA. 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. Kitt Peak National Observatory outside Tucson is one of the association’s observatories. UA is Arizona’s only AAU member. Roger Angel leads UA’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab in building the world’s most advanced telescope. Giant Magellan Telescope images will be 10 times sharper than Hubble’s. In 2021, the telescope will be finished. GMT is $1 billion. Nine institutions are seeking project funding. The telescope’s seven 18-ton mirrors will provide clear images of Mars volcanoes, riverbeds, and Moon mountains 40 times faster than current large telescopes. The Giant Magellan Telescope’s mirrors will be built at the U of A and transported to the Chilean Andes.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter carried the HiRISE camera when it reached Mars in March 2006. This NASA mission carrying a UA-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution Mars images ever. 300 million miles. Peter Smith led the UA’s Phoenix Mars Mission in August 2007, the first university-led mission. The mission reached the Martian surface in May 2008 to study the Arctic. Steward Observatory’s Arizona Radio Observatory operates Mount Graham’s Submillimeter Telescope.
iPlant Collaborative received $50 million from the NSF in 2008. iPlant Collaborative got $50 million in 2013. The cloud-based data management platform, rebranded as “CyVerse” in late 2015, is expanding beyond life sciences to all scientific disciplines.
In June 2011, the university announced it would own Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. Biosphere 2 was built by private developers (mainly Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment in 1991. Since 2007, the university managed the research facility.
The Pioneer Fund, which promotes scientific racism and eugenics, gave UA money in 2018. Aurelio Jose Figueredo, director of the human behavior and evolutionary psychology graduate program, applied for the funds. Figueredo used the grant to attend the 2016 London Conference on Intelligence, where eugenics was discussed. Figueredo has reviewed papers for the racist Mankind Quarterly. Figueredo rejects eugenics and racism.
Arizona Quarterly has been published since 1945.
In August 2017, Arizona and Universidad de Sonora renewed their geology and physics partnership.
Since 1987, Arizona has participated in CERN’s theoretical and experimental particle and nuclear physics research. Peter A. Carruthers, head of the physics department, and Johann Rafelski initiated the collaboration. Arizona joined ATLAS in 1994.
Arizona has a program to attract Chinese students.
The 2015-2016 Association of Research Libraries “Spending by University Research Libraries” report ranks UA libraries 37th in North America (out of 114) for university investment.
The UA library has over 6 million print volumes, 1.1 million electronic books, and 74,000 electronic journals as of 2012[update]. The Main Library, opened in 1976, houses most of the library system’s main collections. Near McKale Center and Arizona Stadium is the Main Library.
In 2002, a $20 million, 10,000-square-foot computer facility for incoming students was completed. The ILC has classrooms, auditoriums, vending machines, and a computer lab with 3D printing. UA students, faculty, and staff can use computers and 3D printing (with some restrictions). The ILC was built under the Mall’s east end. ILC connects to Main Library’s basement. The project added new office space to the library’s fifth floor.
The Main Library and Special Collections are adjacent. It was founded in 1958 and houses Arizona and Southwestern history, borderlands studies, and literature.
The Weaver Science and Engineering Library is in a nearby 1960s building with volumes and periodicals. The Music Building houses the Fine Arts Library, which has reference collections for architecture, music (including sheet music, recordings, and listening stations), and photography. The Center for Creative Photography’s small library is dedicated to photography’s art and science. The Law Library is in the law building at Speedway Boulevard and Mountain Avenue.
The 1996 Arizona Health Sciences Library is in the Health Sciences Education Building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus (HSEB). The library serves the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Veterinary Medicine, and the University of Arizona Health Network.
The main campus’ 179 buildings are on 380 acres (1.5 km2) northeast of downtown Tucson. Roy Place, a prominent Tucson architect, designed many early buildings, including the Arizona State Museum and Centennial Hall. Place’s use of red brick set the tone for the red brick facades of nearly all UA buildings: almost every UA building has red brick as a major component of the design, or at least a stylistic accent to harmonize it with the other campus buildings. In the 1930s, Place updated John Lyman’s 1919 campus master plan modeled after UVA.
Quadrants divide the campus. The Mall divides campus’ north and south sides from Old Main to Campbell Avenue (a major north–south arterial street). Highland Avenue and the Student Union Memorial Center separate west and east campus (see below).
The science and math buildings are in the southwest quadrant, the athletics facilities in the southeast, the arts and humanities buildings in the northwest, and the engineering buildings in the north central area. The optical and space sciences buildings are near the sports stadiums and main library (1976).
Since the 1980s, several university buildings have been built on and north of Speedway Boulevard, expanding into a neighborhood of apartment complexes and single-family homes. In recent years, the university bought several apartment complexes for student housing. South of Sixth Street are single-family homes (many rented to students).
Park Avenue is the western boundary of campus, and a stone wall runs along the east side of the street to the old Main Gate and Old Main’s driveway. Along or adjacent to all of these major streets are shops, bookstores, bars, banks, credit unions, coffeehouses, and fast-food chains like Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Pei Wei. The area near University Boulevard and Park Avenue, near the Main Gate, has been a major retail hub since the university’s early decades. Many 1920s-era shops have been renovated since the late 1990s, and a nine-story Marriott hotel was built in 1996.
The Stevie Eller Dance Theater opened in 2003 (across the Mall from McKale Center) as a 28,600-square-foot (2,660 m2) performance venue for the UA’s highly regarded dance program. Designed by Phoenix-based Gould Evans, the theater won the 2003 Citation Award from the AIA, Arizona Chapter.
The Computer Science webcam shows the campus from the Gould-Simpson building (the tallest classroom building on campus at 10 stories). The 1919 Berger Memorial Fountain honors UA students who died in World War I. Solar panels (photovoltaic) installed on campus buildings generate renewable energy at UA. 2011 College Sustainability Report Card: “B” In 2015, the university opened ENR2, housing the University of Arizona School of Geography, Development and Environment. It has a cutting-edge air conditioning system and 55,000-gallon water-harvesting tank. The 150,000 sq. ft. building focuses on adaptation and reducing our carbon footprint.
West of Old Main are older campus buildings. Most of the buildings east of Old Main date from the 1940s to the 1980s (a period of campus and city growth), with a few built since 1990.
The Student Union Memorial Center was reconstructed between 2000 and 2003. It replaced a 270,000-square-foot building opened in 1951 with additions in the 1960s and early 1970s. The student union has 14 restaurants, a grocery market, a two-level bookstore with an office supplies section, 23 meeting rooms, eight lounge areas (one dedicated to the USS Arizona), a computer lab, a U.S. Post Office, and a copy center.
The building resembles USS Arizona (BB-39). A variety of sculptures decorate the grounds with the chimes of dog tags or the colors of refracted light to honor veterans. A bell rescued from the USS Arizona after Pearl Harbor now resides in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center.
The bell arrived in 1946. The bell was rung seven times on the third Wednesday of each month at 12:07 pm, symbolic of the battleship’s sinking on December 7, 1941, to honor UA individuals and after home football victories, except over Arizona schools. At the request of the U.S. Navy, which still owns the bell, it was announced in December 2020 that the bell would no longer be rung.
The main campus has a large arboretum. An international plant walk is self-guided. In Krutch Cactus Garden is Arizona’s tallest Boojum tree. “ARIZ” refers to two campus herbaria in the Index Herbariorum.
Robert H. Forbes planted many of the campus’ olive trees. Many of these trees are 100 years old.
The Arizona Board of Regents governs the UA, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. Eight volunteers are appointed by the governor to eight-year terms; two students serve two-year terms, with the first year as a nonvoting apprentice year. The governor and SPI are voting ex-officio members. Title 15 of the Arizona Revised Statutes gives the ABOR oversight of the three major universities that grant degrees.
Dr. Robert C. Robbins was named UA president on March 7, 2017. On June 1, 2017, he took office. He was CEO of Houston’s Texas Medical Center from 2012 to 2017. Robbins was a professor and chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, founding director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, and president of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation and Western Thoracic Surgical Association.
Ann Weaver Hart, M.A., Ph.D., was the university’s first female president. He’s the only finalist to succeed Hart as UA president after she said she wouldn’t seek an extension. Hart led the university’s first strategic academic and business plan and agreement with Banner Health to support biosciences research and medical education.
Notable past presidents of the university include Hart (formerly president of Temple University), interim president Eugene Sander, who retired after 25 years as an educator and administrator, and Robert N. Shelton, who began his tenure in 2006 and resigned in 2011 to become president of the Fiesta Bowl (a BCS college football tournament played annually in the Phoenix area).
Peter Likins resigned after the 2005–06 academic year. Manuel Pacheco (Likins’ primary predecessor and the first person of Hispanic descent to lead the university; for whom the Integrated Learning Center is named), Henry Koffler (Pacheco’s predecessor and the first UA alumnus to lead the university), John Schaefer, Richard Harvill (who presided over the UA’s dramatic growth in the 1950s and 1960s), Homer L. Shantz, Kendric C. Babcock, and Rufus B. von KleinS
Sports are a major activity on campus, and they receive a large operating budget. Arizona’s athletic teams are nicknamed the Wildcats after a 1914 football game with Occidental College, when the L.A. Times said “the Arizona men showed the fight of wildcats.” Arizona joined NCAA Division I-A and the Pac-12 in 1978.
The men’s basketball team has been a national powerhouse in Division I since Lute Olson was hired in 1983. Between 1985 and 2009, the team reached the NCAA Tournament 25 consecutive years, the third-longest streak in NCAA history after Kansas and North Carolina. Wildcats reached NCAA Final Four in 1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001. In 1997, Arizona defeated Kentucky to win the NCAA National Championship (NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship) 84–79 in overtime. It was Arizona’s first national title.
The 1997 championship team was the first and only in NCAA history to beat three number-one seeds en route to a national title (Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky). Miles Simon was 1997 Final Four MVP (Simon was also an assistant coach under Olson from 2005 to 2008). The Cats have the third-highest winning percentage in the last 20 years. Arizona has won 28 regular-season and 6 PAC-12 tournament titles. Arizona has 17 NBA draftees since 2005.
The Wildcats play in Tucson’s McKale Center. Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Sean Elliott, Damon Stoudamire, Khalid Reeves, Luke Walton, Hassan Adams, Salim Stoudamire, Andre Iguodala, Channing Frye, Brian Williams (later known as Bison Dele), Sean Rooks, Jud Buechler, Michael Dickerson, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Jerryd Bayless, Derrick Williams, Kadrias Be Kenny Lofton, a former MLB star, played four years of basketball for Arizona (and was on the 1988 Final Four team) before one year on the baseball team. Eugene “Wildkat” Edgerson played on the 1997 and 2001 Final Four teams and for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Arizona was the first Division I school to hire an African American head coach, Fred Snowden, in 1972. After 25 years as Arizona’s head coach, Olson retired in 2008. After two seasons with interim coaches, Arizona hired Xavier’s Sean Miller in April 2009. Miller led the Wildcats to five regular-season conference titles, three tournament titles, and seven NCAA appearances. Miller led Arizona to four of its seven 30-win seasons.
After the basketball program received five Level I violations from the NCAA in March 2021, Miller was fired in April 2021 after 12 seasons. After a national search and much media speculation, Arizona announced Tommy Lloyd would be its 18th head coach.
The Arizona Varsity football team started in 1899. (a name kept until the 1914 season when the team was deemed the “Wildcats”).
Dick Tomey’s “Desert Swarm” defense was tough and hard-nosed during the 1990s. In 1993, it had its first 10-win season and beat Miami 29–0 in the Fiesta Bowl. It was the bowl’s only shutout in 23 years. In 1998, the team went 12-1 and won the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska. Arizona was 4th in the coaches and API polls. The 1998 Holiday Bowl set ESPN’s record for most-watched bowl game.
Mike Stoops, brother of Bob Stoops, led the program from November 2003 until October 2011; he was fired on October 10, 2011. Rich Rodriguez was hired by Kentucky on November 21, 2011. UA athletic director Greg Byrne made the tweet. Rodriguez took the Wildcats to the 2012 New Mexico Bowl, where they beat the Nevada Wolf Pack. In his third season, the Wildcats won the Pac-12 South and the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. In 2015, the Wildcats won their fourth straight bowl game, the New Mexico Bowl. In 2017, they lost in the Foster Farms Bowl to Purdue.
Dave Heeke became Arizona’s 13th Director of Athletics on April 1, 2017. Heeke was Athletics Director at Central Michigan University for 11 years and at Oregon for 18 years. Greg Byrne resigned in January to work at the University of Alabama.