President Eugene G. Sander was met with applause Wednesday when he announced this year's guns on campus legislation appears to be dead.
He made the announcement at his second-to-last campus forum before his tenure ends this summer. The event took place in the Kiewit Auditorium of the Arizona Cancer Center and was attended by about 60 people, mainly from the Arizona Health Sciences Center and the University administration.
Provost Jacqueline Mok, who served as moderator, read a submitted question asking the status of Senate Bill 1474, also known as the guns on campus bill.
"It's dead," Sander said, after which the crowd cheered and clapped.
The legislation sought to allow people with state-issued concealed-weapons permits to carry those weapons on college and university campuses. Colleges could still maintain buildings as gun-free zones but would have to install, at their own expense, gun lockers for those buildings.
Several law enforcement agencies and other higher education representatives around the state expressed similar views in the last several weeks.
On Wednesday, Sander told the forum crowd that the bill's sponsor decided it has too much baggage and won't get through the Legislature.
"They didn't have enough votes to move it forward for consideration, and it died," he said. "Which is a good thing."
Mok read another question asking about pay raises at the UA. The questioner noted that certain people have received pay increases when it became apparent they would leave for higher-paid jobs elsewhere. That ends up giving people incentive to claim they want to leave, the questioner said.
"One of the top priorities that I have, at least to set up Ann Weaver Hart for her presidency, will be to see if we can sweep together some money somewhere, somehow, someplace, that's going to provide a salary increase for all personnel at the University of Arizona," Sander said.
It's been at least four or five years since there was a campuswide raise, he said, and outside competition for the people who work here has increased.
"We have to do something about this, and we have to do it in a significant way," he said.
It's no longer realistic to link salary increases to state appropriations, so the University needs to look at every dollar it has when considering how to pay its people more, he said, even if that means using money from tuition increases.
"I've sort of muttered to the students: You can quit thinking about the fact that we aren't going to use tuition increases. We're going to have to, because our most important asset is essentially the people we have at this university. So we're going to have to do a lot of that in the future," Sander said.
James Allen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, told the faculty at the last Faculty Senate meeting that ASUA is opposed to tuition increases, and he reiterated the point when the group's discussion turned to faculty raises.
Audience member Kathy Bell – whose teenage daughter Lizzie has a rare blood disease and whose family was featured three years ago on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" – asked about recent publicity regarding the University of Arizona Medical Center working to become a so-called "destination hospital" similar to the Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic.
As a mother "who's traveled this country, looking at the different things that help keep Lizzie alive," she said, "I so would like to encourage the destination hospital piece, especially for hematology kids. ... My family would like to serve on whatever committee for pediatric health that can help facilitate what we need here in Arizona."
Sander said UAMC is already a destination hospital in some disciplines, and "there's a lot of work to be done before we can see we comprehensively fall in that category. I think our future is going to be in selected areas where we really can shoot for extreme excellence. ... You want to be selectively excellent and not uniformly mediocre."
He was concise when asked about whether the University will offer another early retirement incentive, as it did last year. The question has come up at previous forums as well.
"No, there won't," Sander said. "After analyzing what we were trying to accomplish last year, as we looked at it very carefully, No. 1, not that many people were willing to take advantage of it. And No. 2, it didn't quite get around to doing what we thought we might be able to do in terms of freeing up money or freeing up positions that could be used in high-priority areas."
Mok presented a question asking how to measure the success of the integration between the former University Physicians Hospital and the former University Medical Center that resulted in the University of Arizona Health Network.
"The success is going to be whether UAHN realizes that its mission, and the reason that it is here, is not to be a community hospital, but to be a hospital system that supports a major medical center in Tucson, Ariz.," Sander said. "That's what it was chartered for. That's what their charter reads."
The Biomedical Communications department live-streamed the event and will post an online video on its website when the recording becomes available.
Sander's next, and final, town hall begins at noon April 11 in the Kiva auditorium of the Student Union Memorial Center.