New U of A president talks access, priorities on first official - Tucson News Now

New U of A president talks access, priorities on first official day

Dr. Robert Robbins (Source: Tucson News Now) Dr. Robert Robbins (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

If a goal for the University of Arizona's new president is more accessibility, he is showing promising signs from the start.

"I'm going to be wandering the campus, at sporting events, and at classes. I want people to come and tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's amazing. People are not shy. They tell me exactly how they think the university should be run," said Dr. Robert Robbins, the University of Arizona's 22nd president.

Robbins spent Thursday, June 1, roaming the campus on his first official day.

He met members of the campus community in the morning during an hour-long event near the Old Main fountain, followed by lunch with some students at the Student Union Memorial Center.

Robbins said he is taking away positive ideas from simply walking the school grounds.

"My popularity is as high as it's ever going to be, right now," Robbins said. "I think that people are welcoming, they're engaging, and I think they sense that I'm optimistic and enthusiastic. So I think that positive energy between the people that I'm interacting with feeds me to want to do the best I can to help bring people together for common purposes."

Robbins takes over the school's presidency from Ann Weaver Hart, who held the position since 2012.

In a news conference, Robbins talked about what is first on his agenda as university president, including positions that need filling in his administrative staff.

Robbins also talked about the need to tackle deferred maintenance issues.

"We have to make priorities about where we start and with what buildings," Robbins said.

He takes over as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's budget was recently approved, with plans to make investments in Arizona's three public universities. The budget calls for up to $1 billion in research and construction funding on the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University campuses.

Robbins comes to Tucson after serving as CEO of the Texas Medical Center, reportedly the world's largest medical network. He said it is partly the reason he got this new job.

"I ran a huge research lab, so I can identify with researchers. I've been a committed educator. So I think I had a lot of the attributes of things that I think this university needs," he said.

According to past reports of front-runners for the job, Robbins beat out others with more university administration experience, while this is his first venture into leading a university.

The university's website states the Arizona Board of Regents, "unanimously approved of Robbins' contract, which will pay him a base salary of $600,000 annually as part of a total compensation package of less than $1 million." 

You can read more about Robbins' past experience on his biography page: http://president.arizona.edu/dr-robert-c-robbins-biography

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