I write to you today with a bittersweet message.
For the past five years, it has been my honor to lead this great University. Despite the fact that my tenure as President has coincided with the most challenging economic time in modern Arizona history, we have accomplished an enormous amount. We've set records for enrollment each year, and each incoming class has been stronger academically and more diverse than the previous year's. We have initiated the Arizona Assurance as well as other financial aid and support programs to keep the UA affordable to all Arizona students and to increase their graduation rates. We have established a nationally recognized program to support returning veterans in their entry to university life and to the successful completion of their college degrees. We successfully launched a new medical school campus in Phoenix. Our research portfolio has risen dramatically, and fundraising has set records. We have the strongest bond rating of all Arizona public universities.
These past five years of my life have been years of passionate devotion to the University of Arizona, and its mission as a premier public research university and as our state’s land-grant institution. My top priority during this daunting economic time has been to preserve and grow the quality of what we do at the UA, because it is the quality of our effort that sets this institution apart.
The five-year anniversary is a time of reflection and after considerable deliberation and consultation with my wife, Adrian, we recently made the difficult decision to begin exploring new options and opportunities to serve Arizonans.
Today I am announcing that I am leaving the University of Arizona to accept the position of Executive Director of the Fiesta Bowl. This is an opportunity to take over the leadership of a highly visible and important economic enterprise in our state. Most people recognize that the Fiesta Bowl brings thousands of people to our state for two prominent football bowl games — the Fiesta Bowl and the Insight Bowl. But many are less aware that the organization is one of Arizona’s most successful charitable enterprises, supporting dozens of local organizations and sponsoring numerous events throughout the year.
I have been enormously impressed with the commitment of the Fiesta Bowl board, and believe that I am joining the organization at a time when we can make big strides in expanding the impact of their important work.
I leave the UA proud of what it stands for and what it means to Arizona's future. The Osiris-Rex grant, announced just two weeks ago, symbolizes the prominence of the UA in the sciences. We received it because of the quality of our faculty and the institutional commitment that has been made to support great science. It is why we are number one in the country in lunar and planetary research, and why we are currently ranked by the NSF as second in the nation in the physical sciences, behind only Cal Tech.
But it is not just the sciences that set us apart. Our programs in the arts have continued to generate the artists of the future, whose performances enrich the quality of life for Arizonans. Our scholars embrace the land-grant mission of serving the people of Arizona. University of Arizona faculty, whether in the physical, biological, social or behavioral sciences, working across disciplines with humanists, health sciences professionals, business and finance and legal scholars, architects and engineers, have all been intensively engaged in projects addressing the issues that matter to the citizens of our state.
Details about the transition will be forthcoming, but for now, let me just saythat I am so proud of the people who make this University great. To all of you — faculty, staff, appointed professionals, students — I offer my heartfelt thanks for your commitment to the values that set the University of Arizona apart. This has always been a place where integrity matters. It is a defining characteristic of our institution, and I know it will forever drive our culture.
We talk about being a Wildcat for Life, and that is truly how I feel. Adrian and I will forever hold this University dear in our hearts, and we will forever be indebted to all who made our time here so special.
Thanks to you all. And Bear Down.