/ Modified mar 10, 2017 8:13 p.m.

Episode 128: Finalist for UA President Visits Campus

Plus, U.S. refugee ban's effect in Tucson; immigration advice at the Mexican consulate.

This week the search for the next president of the University of Arizona was narrowed to a sole finalist, and that man visited campus to make his first impressions on the community in a public forum.

Robert C. Robbins, M.D. is presumed to be the next president, but he won't be formally hired until after his contract negotiations with the Arizona Board of Regents, which begin later this month.

He'll replace Ann Weaver Hart, the University's first female president. She announced she would not renew her contract when it ends in June 2018. Roberts is expected to start in the position in 2017, and Hart will continue to receive her base pay while on sabbatical until her contract ends.

Robbins told the campus community that he wants them to hold his feet to the fire.

"I expect all of you to hold me accountable to the things that we come up with as strategic initiatives and objective," he said.

Regent Bill Ridenour said the board looked for someone with a commitment to longevity at the UA. After his public appearance, Robbins told the press he plans to stay as long as the Regents want to keep him in the job.

“I would hope that I can go for at least 10 good, hard, productive years, but maybe 15," he said. "I’ll be near 75 in 15 years. That’s probably getting to the natural expectancy of someone in this position.”

He also told the forum attendees that he began incognito visits to campus months ago. That came in response to a question about how he plans to get to know students on a personal level.

"Well, I already started," Robbins responded. "I started about three months ago making stealth visits with baseball caps and that kind of stuff and asking students what do you do here. And you know I got some strange looks, and (said) well my son may be interested in attending here, so then they started opening up.”

Also in this episode:

  • Vanessa Barchfield explains the hiring process the regents underwent to select Robbins, and explains that Pima Community College has been relieved of all sanctions, after four years under scrutiny for financial mismanagement and leadership problems.

  • The director of the Iskashitaa Refugee Network in Tucson, Barbara Eiswerth talks about the local impact and reaction to President Trump’s new refugee and immigration policy. We also hear from Suleiman Shire, a Somali refugee living in Tucson, about his experience getting relocated to the United States, and his family's arrival in the window between the two travel bans.

  • The Mexican Consul of Nogales, Arizona, Ricardo Santana Velázquez, explains the new legal defense centers the consulate throughout the U.S. added last week. They are to provide representation to Mexican citizens who live in the U.S.

  • Colette and Jerry Price are two regular volunteers at the Festival of Books. They share stories about their volunteer experiences, including becoming friends with an author after driving her from the airport one year at the festival.

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