Out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Arizona taxpayers continue to get hosed on their investment in the University of Arizona (UA). No other way to put it.
The UA has become this morbidly obese, elephantine monstrosity, more of a jobs-program for local Tucson employees and the cadres of sinecured, faux-intelligencia. And the locals absolutely love manipulating this rigged home-town system because Arizona state government is asleep at the wheel.
It bears very little resemblance to Dr. Michael Crow’s concept of a modern, responsive & competitive “university force multiplier” for the 21st Century. Especially when you compare the UA’s miserable record of attracting business to Arizona with that of Arizona State University in Tempe.
There’s simply no comparison; my word & data limit to illustrate the differences would be off the chart.
Officially, UA’s 4 year grad rate is 47%, with 72% of those enrolled getting some kind of aid; several economic development experts I spoke to believe 80-90% of those graduating leave Tucson altogether. Those left are the college town refugees, trying to make it locally in “Poverty Pueblo”, and to simply grow up. It’s a real Hobbesian dilemma.
What’s occurring is a genuine, willful neglect of human talent. How can one possibly contend, in a Tucson Metro now over a million people, this is anything but wasteful to all Arizona taxpayers?
The Arizona Legislature has allowed this to happen.
A perfect illustration of how these incestuous relationships in Tucson are simply taken for granted is the recent case of UA’s 160 acre agricultural land plat. Now surrounded completely by urban development in north central Tucson, its monetary value is enormous, easily 9-figures. But it’s simply too small today for the kind of historic land-grant university mission it was designed to address 111 years ago in 1909.
But not according to one Bonnie Poulos, a prominent Tucson political activist, who also used to moonlight as a UA employee (of course). Poulos wants this acreage to be the personal preserve, err… “UA sanctioned use”, for all her hard-left homies and entitled hippie urbanites—so they can have personal gardens, do specious “social gardening” schemes for the poor & downtrodden (of course), grow who knows what, etc., etc. All at Arizona state taxpayer expense.
Ms. Paulos’ Campus Farm Neighborhood Association (she created in 1994 to successfully intimidate UA administrators) ….went into a tizzy after UA Prez Robert Robbins casually mentioned they might be looking to sell the land tract, extract some value for Arizona taxpayers, and possibly fund a move outside of town for larger, more capable quarters. A win-win-win for everybody, including Tucson’s badly undernourished tax base.
And who are the first people Poulos calls to sound her sanctimonious alarm? Why the hard-left, media apparatchiks at the Daily ‘Red Star’ newspaper (of course). Massive aircover for this ridiculous left-wing power (& money) grab ensues, cowering the University.
Hey, it’s S.O.P. with these Tucson Leftists and UA people; all so sadly predictable, and it will continue to work, until one day it doesn’t. That threshold is very close.
Sellers is a South Park Republican who lives in incorporated Oro Valley. His background is federal tech-transfer commercialization. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org