After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The University of Arizona was approved by the Arizona Territory's "Thieving Thirteenth" Legislature in 1885, which also selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson had hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory's mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory's only university (Arizona State University was also chartered in 1885, but at the time it was created as Arizona's normal school, and not a university). Tucson's contingent of legislators was delayed in reaching Prescott due to flooding on the Salt River and by the time they arrived, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize. With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.
The University of Arizona offers 334 fields of study leading to bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees. Academic departments and programs are organized into colleges and schools. Currently, grades are given on a strict 4-point scale with "A" worth 4, "B" worth 3, "C" worth 2, "D" worth 1 and "E" worth zero points. In 2004, there were discussions with students and faculty that may lead the UA towards eventual usage of the plus-minus grading system in future years. As of December 2015, the university still uses the 4-points scale.
The Center for World University Rankings in 2015 ranked Arizona 68th in the world and 42nd in the U.S. The 2015–16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings rated University of Arizona 163rd in the world and the 2016/17 QS World University Rankings ranked it 233rd.
The University of Arizona was ranked tied for 124th in the "National Universities" category by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, and 60th among "Top Public Schools." The James E. Rogers College of Law was ranked tied for 42nd nationally, and the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson was tied for 74th nationally in primary care and tied for 63rd for research by U.S. News & World Report for 2016. The College of Medicine was also rated No. 7 among the nation's medical schools for Hispanic students, according to Hispanic Business Magazine. In 2016, the Eller MBA program was ranked 56th by U.S. News & World Report, which placed the school's Information Systems program tied for 3rd best in the U.S., the Entrepreneurship program tied for 11th and the Part-time MBA tied for 33rd. U.S. News & World Report also rated UA as tied for 41st for online MBA programs, tied for 23rd for best online graduate nursing programs, and tied for 44th for best online graduate engineering programs. UA graduate programs ranked in the top 25 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 2016 include Social Psychology (5th), Speech Pathology (5th), Rehabilitation Counseling (6th), Earth Sciences (7th), Analytical Chemistry (9th), Latin American history (9th), Atomic Physics (9th), Pharmacy (10th), Audiology (12th), Public Management Administration (13th), Photography (17th), and Nonprofit Management (21st).
The Council for Aid to Education ranked UA 12th among public universities and 24th overall in financial support and gifts. Campaign Arizona, an effort to raise over $1 billion for the school, exceeded that goal by $200 million a year earlier than projected. In April 2014, the "Arizona Now" campaign launched with a target of $1.5 billion. As of January 31, 2016, the campaign has raised $1.37 Billion, 91% of its goal.
In 2015, the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture's (CALA) undergraduate program in architecture was rated 10th in the nation for all universities, public and private, as reported in Design Intelligence. UA ranked 20th in overall undergraduate architecture programs by the same publication.
The School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona is one of the most highly ranked area studies programs focusing on the Middle East in the United States. In addition to offering language training in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish (both Modern and Ottoman), it is collocated with the Middle East Studies Association.
The UA is considered a "selective" university by U.S. News & World Report. In the 2014-2015 academic year, 68 freshman students were National Merit Scholars.
UA students hail from all states in the U.S. While nearly 69% of students are from Arizona, nearly 11% are from California, and 8% are international, followed by a significant student presence from Texas, Illinois, Washington, Colorado and New York. (Fall 2013).
Tuition at the University of Arizona is $11,591 for those who are full-time undergraduate residents and $30,745 for those who are non-residents. As in other states, the cost of tuition has been rising due to the decrease in government support. Undergraduate students who enrolled in the UA's optional tuition guarantee program in 2014 will remain at $11,591 for residents and $30,745 for non-residents through the 2018-19 academic year. Incoming students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program are automatically eligible for the Guaranteed Tuition Program and will not be subject to tuition increases for 8 continuous semesters (four years). The Guaranteed Tuition Program does not apply to rates for summer and winter sessions.
The University of Arizona Honors College provides a program for over 4,500 students that creates a smaller community feel, like that of a liberal arts college, within a large research institution. It started in 1962 with an acceptance of seventy-five students and has grown to 4,546 in the academic year 2014–2015. The main offices for the University of Arizona Honors College are near Park Ave. and 2nd Street, near the Harvill Lecture Hall building. These offices are known as The Slonaker House.
The University of Arizona Honors College is in affiliation with the University of Arizona and is headed by Dean Elliott Cheu and Associate Dean Dr. Laura Berry. Under the Dean and Vice Dean are the offices of the Academic Advising Coordinator, Director of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, Director of Recruitment and Outreach, Director of Development, Program Coordinator for Career and Development and Community Engagement, Honors Professors, and Honors advisors.
The University of Arizona Honors College has a strong first-year program for its students that includes common reading materials and Colloquium/Paladin classes everyone must take as a freshman. The program's requirements entail that each honors student must complete 30 credit hours of honors credit by graduation time and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5. To complete these credit hours, students may take courses designated as honors at the University of Arizona or may turn a regular course into an honors course through an honors contract. In addition, they must collaborate with a faculty member and write an honors thesis before graduating with honors from the University of Arizona.
The University of Arizona Honors College provides two on-campus dorms for their students, Yuma Hall and Árbol de la Vida. Yuma houses 190 men and women and is located near the Slonaker House on East North Campus Drive, in the Historic District. Árbol de la Vida houses 719 men and women and is in the Park District, on the edge of campus on 6th street and Tyndall Avenue near the Park Student Union. Yuma was renovated and turned into an honors dorm in 1988, whereas Árbol de la Vida first opened to students in the Fall of 2011.
There are additional resources available to honors students in the University of Arizona Honors College. Such resources include: longer library check-out dates, cheaper printing options at the Slonaker House, priority registration, additional honors advising, smaller class sizes taught by Honors faculty, clubs and organizations specifically available to only honors students such as the Honors Student Council and the Honors College Ambassadors, and additional scholarship opportunities. However, there is also a fee for participating in honors and an additional honors thesis is required of its students before graduation.
Arizona is classified as a Carnegie Foundation "RU/VH: Research Universities (very high research activity)" university (formerly "Research 1" university). The university receives approximately $606 million annually in research funding.
Arizona is awarded more NASA grants for space exploration than any other university nationally. The UA was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA's 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic. The LPL's work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than that of any other university globally. The U of A laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The UA operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, UA alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery that was confirmed by NASA in 2015. UA receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars' upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun's atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta's VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016. UA students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars."Student Honors". Highlights and Rankings. University of Arizona. Retrieved March 29, 2006. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UA is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.
UA is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory located just outside Tucson. UA is a member of the Association of American Universities, and the sole representative from Arizona to this group. Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at UA are working in concert to build the world's most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope, the instrument will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope. The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world's current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at the U of A and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.
Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Primary Investigator is scientist Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This NASA mission to Mars carried a UA-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, the UA, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet's surface in May 2008, the mission's purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory, a part of Steward Observatory, operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.
The National Science Foundation funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as "CyVerse", the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.
In June 2011, the university announced that it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.
According to the 2012-2013 Association of Research Libraries' "Spending by University Research Libraries" report, UA libraries are ranked as the 41st overall university library in North America (out of 115) for university investment.
As of 2012, the UA's library system contains over six million print volumes, 1,100,000 electronic books, and 74,000 electronic journals. The Main Library, opened in 1976, serves as the library system's reference, periodical, and administrative center; most of the main collections and special collections are housed here as well. The Main Library is located on the southeast quadrant of campus near McKale Center and Arizona Stadium.
In 2002, the Integrated Learning Center (ILC) was completed as a $20 million, 100,000-square-foot (10,000 m2) computer facility intended for use by incoming students. The ILC features classrooms, auditoriums, a courtyard with vending machines, and an expanded computer lab with several dozen workstations and 3D printing. Computers and 3D printing are available for use by the general public (with some restrictions) as well as by UA students, faculty and staff. Much of the ILC was constructed underground, underneath the east end of the Mall. The ILC connects to the basement floor of the Main Library. As part of the project, additional new office space for the Library was constructed on the existing fifth floor.
The Science and Engineering Library is in a nearby building from the 1960s that houses volumes and periodicals from those fields. The Music Building (on the northwest quadrant of campus where many of the fine arts disciplines are clustered) houses the Fine Arts Library, including reference collections for architecture, music (including sheet music, recordings and listening stations), and photography. There is a small library at the Center for Creative Photography, also in the fine arts complex, devoted to the art and science of photography. The Law Library is in the law building (James E. Rogers College of Law), located at the intersection of Speedway Boulevard and Mountain Avenue.
The Arizona Health Sciences Library, built in 1996, is located on the Health Sciences Center on the north end of campus and in Phoenix on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. The library serves the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health, the University of Arizona Health Network, and is a resource for health professionals and citizens across the state.
The University of Arizona Poetry Center houses an extensive collection of contemporary poetry. It is a large "open shelf" collection.
The main campus sits on 380 acres (1.5 km2) in central Tucson, about one mile (1.6 km) northeast of downtown. There are 179 buildings on the main campus. Many of the early buildings, including the Arizona State Museum buildings (one of them the 1927 main library) and Centennial Hall, were designed by Roy Place, a prominent Tucson architect. It was Place's use of red brick that set the tone for the red brick facades that are a basic and ubiquitous part of nearly all UA buildings, even those built in recent decades. Indeed, almost every UA building has red brick as a major component of the design, or at the very least, a stylistic accent to harmonize it with the other buildings on campus.
The campus is roughly divided into quadrants. The north and south sides of campus are delineated by a grassy expanse called the Mall, which stretches from Old Main eastward to the campus' eastern border at Campbell Avenue (a major north-south arterial street). The west and east sides of campus are separated roughly by Highland Avenue and the Student Union Memorial Center (see below).
The science and mathematics buildings tend to be clustered in the southwest quadrant; the intercollegiate athletics facilities to the southeast; the arts and humanities buildings to the northwest (with the dance department being a major exception as its main facilities are far to the east end of campus), with the engineering buildings in the north central area. The optical and space sciences buildings are clustered on the east side of campus near the sports stadiums and the (1976) main library.
Speedway Boulevard, one of Tucson's primary east-west arterial streets, traditionally defined the northern boundary of campus but since the 1980s, several university buildings have been constructed north of this street, expanding into a neighborhood traditionally filled with apartment complexes and single-family homes. The university has purchased a handful of these apartment complexes for student housing in recent years. Sixth Street typically defines the southern boundary, with single-family homes (many of which are rented out to students) south of this street.
Park Avenue has traditionally defined the western boundary of campus, and there is a stone wall which runs along a large portion of the east side of the street, leading to the old Main Gate, and into the driveway leading to Old Main. Along or adjacent to all of these major streets are a wide variety of retail facilities serving the student, faculty and staff population (as is the case in other similar university neighborhoods throughout the United States): shops, bookstores, bars, banks, credit unions, coffeehouses and major chain fast-food restaurants such as Chipotle, Panera Bread and Pei Wei. The area near University Boulevard and Park Avenue, near the Main Gate, has been a major center of such retail activity going back to the university's early decades; many shops dating from the 1920s have been renovated since the late 1990s, other new retail shops have been built in recent years, and a nine-story Marriott hotel was built in this immediate district in 1996. The Stevie Eller Dance Theater, opened in 2003 (across the Mall from McKale Center) as a 28,600-square-foot (2,660 m2) dedicated performance venue for the UA's dance program, one of the most highly regarded university dance departments in the United States. Designed by Gould Evans, a Phoenix-based architectural firm, the theater was awarded the 2003 Citation Award from the American Institute of Architects, Arizona Chapter.
The Computer Science department has set up a webcam that provides a live feed of the campus as seen from the top of the Gould Simpson building. The Berger Memorial Fountain at the west entrance of Old Main honors the UA students who lost their lives in World War I, and dates back to 1919. The University of Arizona generates renewable energy with solar panels (photo voltaic)that have been installed on campus buildings. In 2011, the Sustainable Endowments Institute gave the university a College Sustainability Report Card grade of "B." In 2015, the university opened the ENR2, set to be one of its "greenest" buildings on campus with features like a cutting edge air conditioning system and 55,000-gallon water-harvesting tank. Designed to resemble a slot canyon in the Sonoran Desert, the 150,000 sq. ft. building focuses on adaptation and reducing our carbon footprint.
The oldest campus buildings are located west of Old Main. Most of the buildings east of Old Main date from the 1940s to the 1980s, with a few recent buildings constructed in the years since 1990.
The Student Union Memorial Center, located on the north side of the Mall east of Old Main, was completely reconstructed between 2000 and 2003, replacing a 270,000-square-foot (25,000 m2) structure originally opened in 1951 (with additions in the 1960s). The new $60 million student union has 405,000 square feet (37,600 m2) of space on four levels, including 14 restaurants (including a food court with such national chains as Burger King, Panda Express, Papa John's Pizza and Chick-fil-A), a new two-level bookstore (that includes a counter for Clinique merchandise as well as an office supplies section sponsored by Staples with many of the same Staples-branded items found in their regular stores), 23 meeting rooms, eight lounge areas (including one dedicated to the USS Arizona), a computer lab, a U.S. Post Office, and a copy center named Fast Copy.
The building was designed to mirror the USS Arizona (BB-39). A variety of sculptures pepper the premises, decorating the air with the chimes of dog tags or the colors of refracted light in honor of those who have served. A bell housed on the USS Arizona, one of the two bells rescued from the ship after the attack on Pearl Harbor, has a permanent home in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center on campus. The bell first arrived on campus in July 1946. The bell is rung seven times on the third Wednesday of every month at 12:07 pm – symbolic of the battleship's sinking on December 7, 1941 – to honor individuals at the UA, as well as after home football games.
The University of Arizona BookStores (UA Bookstore or UA BookStores) is a self-financed auxiliary unit within The University of Arizona Division of Student Affairs, meaning the BookStores operates without the aid of monies allocated from state tax, student tuition, or any other campus subsidies. UA BookStores serves an imperative role in the provision of financial support for student scholarships, student-led clubs and organizations (including UAs student government, ASUA), for several UA academic departments, campus media (including the campus daily paper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat), several performance arts venues around campus, and more. UA BookStores operates three store locations on campus: the Main store in the Student Union Memorial Center (SUMC), the Medical store in Arizona Health Sciences Center, and the McKale Sports Stop located in the McKale Memorial Center. The organization also operates gift shops in the Flandrau Science Center, the UA Poetry Center, and the Biosphere2 located north of Tucson. Off-campus locations include remote campus stores on the UA South campus in Sierra Vista located south of Tucson, and the new UA Downtown campus located in the historic Montgomery Ward building, designed by Roy Place (during the period he also served as the official UA campus architect) in Downtown Tucson.
Much of the main campus has been designated an arboretum. Plants from around the world are labeled along a self-guided plant walk. The Krutch Cactus Garden includes the tallest Boojum tree in the state of Arizona. (The university also manages Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, located in rural Pinal County about 85 miles (137 km) north of the main campus.) Two herbaria are located on the university campus and both are referred to as "ARIZ" in the Index Herbariorum
The campus also boasts hundreds of olive trees many of which were planted by Prof. Robert H. Forbes. Many of these trees are over a hundred years old.
The University of Arizona, like its sister institutions Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, is governed by the Arizona Board of Regents or the ABOR, a 12-member body. According to information published by the ABOR office and available on their Web site, eight volunteer members are appointed by the Governor to staggered eight-year terms; two students serve on the board for two-year appointments, with the first year being a nonvoting apprentice year. The Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction serve as voting ex-officio members. The ABOR provides "policy guidance" and oversight to the three major degree-granting universities, as provided for by Title 15 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
The immediate past interim president is Eugene G. Sander, who had been UA vice provost and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Sander began his service as president in August 2011.
Ann Weaver Hart, formerly president of Temple University, was named the 21st president of the UA on February 17, 2012. Dr. Hart is the first female president of the UA. She began her term on July 1, 2012, replacing Eugene Sander, who retired from the university after 25 years of service as an educator and administrator. Hart has announced that she will not seek to extend to her contract past its June 30, 2018 end date.
The previous president, Robert N. Shelton, began his tenure in 2006 and resigned in the summer of 2011 to accept the presidency of the Fiesta Bowl, (a BCS college football tournament played annually in the Phoenix area). Shelton's predecessor, Peter Likins, vacated his post at the conclusion of the 2005–06 academic term. Notable past UA presidents include Likins, Manuel Pacheco (the first person of Hispanic descent to lead the university and for whom the Integrated Learning Center is named), Homer L. Shantz, Kendric C. Babcock, Henry Koffler, John Schaefer, Richard Harvill and Rufus B. von KleinSmid.
Like many large public universities in the U.S., sports are a major activity on campus, and receive a large operating budget. Arizona's athletic teams are nicknamed the Wildcats, a name derived from a 1914 football game with then California champions Occidental College, where the L.A. Times asserted that, "the Arizona men showed the fight of wildcats." The University of Arizona participates in the NCAA's Division I-A in the Pac-12 Conference, which it joined in 1978.
The men's basketball team has been one of the nation's most successful programs since Lute Olson was hired as head coach in 1983, and is still known as a national powerhouse in Division I men's basketball. Between 1985 and 2009, the team reached the NCAA Tournament 25 consecutive years, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, second only to North Carolina's record of 27 consecutive appearances from 1975 to 2001. The Wildcats have reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in 1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001. In 1997, Arizona defeated the University of Kentucky, the then defending national champions, to win the NCAA National Championship (NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship) by a score of 84–79 in overtime; Arizona's first national championship victory. The 1997 championship team became the first and only in NCAA history to defeat three number-one seeds en route to a national title (Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky—the North Carolina game being the final game for longtime UNC head coach Dean Smith). Point guard Miles Simon was chosen as 1997 Final Four MVP (Simon was also an assistant coach under Olson from 2005 to 2008). The Cats also boast the third highest winning percentage in the nation over the last twenty years. Arizona has won a total of 27 regular season conference championships in its programs history, and 5 PAC-12 tournaments. Since 2005, Arizona has produced 11 NBA draft picks.
The Wildcats play their home games at the McKale Center in Tucson. A number of former Wildcats have gone on to pursue successful professional NBA careers (especially during the Lute Olson era), including Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Sean Elliott, Damon Stoudamire, Khalid Reeves, Luke Walton, Hassan Adams, Salim Stoudamire, Andre Iguodala, Channing Frye, Brian Williams (later known as Bison Dele), Sean Rooks, Jud Buechler, Michael Dickerson, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Jerryd Bayless, Derrick Williams and Steve Kerr. Kenny Lofton, now best known as a former Major League Baseball star, was a four-year letter winner as a Wildcat basketball player (and was on the 1988 Final Four team), before one year on the Arizona baseball team. Another notable former Wildcat basketball player is Eugene Edgerson, who played on the 1997 and 2001 Final Four squads, and is currently one of the primary stars of the Harlem Globetrotters as "Wildkat" Edgerson.
Before Lute Olson's hire in 1983, Arizona was the first major Division I school to hire an African American head coach in Fred Snowden, in 1972. After a 25-year tenure as Arizona head coach, Olson announced his retirement from the Arizona basketball program in October 2008. After two seasons of using interim coaches, Arizona named Sean Miller, head coach at Xavier University, as its new head basketball coach in April 2009.
The football team began at The University of Arizona in 1899 under the nickname "Varsity" (a name kept until the 1914 season when the team was deemed the "Wildcats").
The football team was notably successful in the 1990s, under head coach Dick Tomey; his "Desert Swarm" defense was characterized by tough, hard-nosed tactics. In 1993, the team had its first 10-win season and beat the University of Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl by a score of 29–0. It was the bowl game's only shutout in its then 23-year history. In 1998, the team posted a school-record 12–1 season and made the Holiday Bowl in which it defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Arizona ended that season ranked 4th nationally in the coaches and API poll. The 1998 Holiday Bowl was televised on ESPN and set the now-surpassed record of being the most watched of any bowl game in that network's history. From November 2003 until October 2011, the program was led by Mike Stoops, brother of Bob Stoops, the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma (the 2000 BCS national champions); Stoops was fired on October 10, 2011. Former Michigan and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez was hired on November 21, 2011 to lead the Wildcats. The announcement was made by UA athletic director Greg Byrne via Twitter. In his first season, Rodriguez took the Wildcats to the 2012 New Mexico Bowl, where they defeated the University of Nevada Wolf Pack. In his third season, the Wildcats won the Pac-12 South and played in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. In 2015, the Wildcats played in their fourth consecutive bowl game, defeating the University of Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.
The baseball team had its first season in 1904. The baseball team has captured four national championship titles in 1976, 1980, 1986 and 2012, with the first three coached by Jerry Kindall and the most recent by Andy Lopez. Arizona baseball teams have appeared in the NCAA National Championship title series a total of 34 times, including 1956, 1959, 1963, 1976, 1980, 1986, 2004, 2012, and 2016. Arizona baseball has appeared in the College World Series 17 times. (College World Series). Arizona is 7th all-time in games won in the regular season with 2,347 wins. Home games are played at Hi Corbett Field.
Jay Johnson, previously head coach of the University of Nevada baseball program, succeeded Andy Lopez who retired after the 2015 season. In his first season as head coach, Johnson guided his team to the programs 17th College World Series appearance and 8th championship series appearance.
Arizona baseball also has a student section named The Hot Corner. Famous UA baseball alums include Terry Francona, Kenny Lofton, Shelley Duncan, Trevor Hoffman, Mark Melancon, Chip Hale, Craig Lefferts, J. T. Snow, Don Lee, Carl Thomas, Mike Paul, Dan Schneider, Rich Hinton, Ed Vosberg, Hank Leiber, Ron Hassey, Brad Mills, and Joe Magrane.
The Arizona softball team is among the top programs in the country. The softball team has won eight NCAA Women's College World Series titles, in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2007 under head coach Mike Candrea (NCAA Softball Championship). The team has appeared in the NCAA National Championship in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2010 (a feat second only to UCLA), and has reached the College World Series 19 of the past 20 years. Coach Candrea, along with former Arizona pitcher Jennie Finch, led the 2004 U.S. Olympic softball team to a gold medal in Athens, Greece. The Wildcat softball team plays at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
The university's golf teams have also been notably successful. The men's team won a national championship in 1992 (NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships), and has produced a number of successful professionals, most notably Jim Furyk. The women's team won national championships in 1996 and 2000 (NCAA Women's Golf Championship). The women's golf program has produced professionals Annika Sörenstam and Lorena Ochoa.
The lacrosse team is a club team, not a varsity sport at Arizona, affectionately known as the "Laxcats". Its existence, since the mid-1960s, is saturated with a rich tradition of success. In the 1960s, Arizona was a Division I Varsity program, coached by the legendary Carl Runk, an Arizona graduate and football player. In 1998 Carl retired after twenty-eight years at Towson University in Maryland.
Many other Wildcats have met with success at the university. Alix Creek and Michelle Oldham won the NCAA Women's Doubles Tennis title in 1993, defeating Texas in the Final. Although surprising to some, the University of Arizona has a noteworthy history in ice hockey. The school's club hockey team, formerly known as the Icecats, won over 800 games between its inception in 1979 and 2011. The Icecats defeated Penn State for the National Collegiate Club Hockey National Championship in 1985. They also appeared in eight Final Fours (’84, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’91, ’93, ’94, ’97) and ten Elite Eights. As of 2011, they are part of ACHA Division I, and are known formally as the Arizona Wildcats hockey team. Robert M. Tanita was a nationally ranked collegiate wrestler who reached the NCAA finals tournament as WAC champion in 1963.
Three national championships for synchronized swimming were won in 1980, 1981, and 1984, though these championships were in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, and not the NCAA. Along with winning three national championships in the pool for synchronized swimming, the Wildcats have also won their first NCAA Championship in men and women's swimming and diving for the seasons of 2007–2008. Topping off these weekends Frank Busch, the men and women's head coach, was named NCAA Swimming Coach of the Year. Arizona men became the first team to claim a first-time title since UCLA's win in 1982. Also, the men ended Texas and Auburn's winning streak since 1998. At the end of the meet, the Texas Longhorns took second while 2007's champion, the Auburn Tigers, took fifth. For the women, Arizona worked on the disappointment of 2007's defeat. The women were winning until the last day when Auburn grasped the title. Unlike 2007, Arizona's women did not let anyone come close. The Wildcats won with 484 team points while the Auburn Tigers came in second with 348 and the Stanford Cardinal in third with 343. Student-athletes from the women's swimming and diving team have been particularly heralded by the NCAA. The NCAA Woman of the Year Award was won by UA swimmers Whitney Myers, Lacey Nymeyer and Justine Schluntz in 2007, 2009 and 2010 respectively. The three awards and the 1994 award won by track and field athlete Tanya Hughes are the highest number of Woman of the Year awards won by a single university.
A number of notable individuals have also won national championships in the NCAA. Arizona's first NCAA Individual Champion in the sport of Men's Swimming came in 1981 when Doug Towne won the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships. Another individual champion occurred in 1989 when Mariusz Podkoscielny won the 1650-yard (mile) at the NCAA National Championships held at the IUPUI Natatorium. Some other champion swimmers include Crissy Ahmann-Leighton, Ryk Neethling, Margo Geer, Kevin Cordes, and Amanda Beard. Annika Sörenstam won in 1991 in golf, and Brigetta Barrett won the women’s high jump in 2013. The men's cross country has also produced two individual national titles in 1986 (Aaron Ramirez) and 1994 (Martin Keino) (NCAA Men's Cross Country Champions). The women's cross country also produced two individual national titles in 1996 (Amy Skieresz) and 2001 (Tara Chaplin) (NCAA Women's Cross Country Championship). Another notable individual was football standout Vance Johnson who won the NCAA long jump in 1982.
A strong athletic rivalry exists between the University of Arizona and Arizona State University located in Tempe, Arizona. The University of Arizona leads the all-time record against Arizona State University in men's basketball (148–82), as well as in football (49–40–1). The football rivalry game between the schools is known as "The Duel in the Desert." The trophy awarded after each game, the Territorial Cup, is the nation's oldest rivalry trophy, distinguished by the NCAA. Rivalries have also been created with other Pac-12 teams, especially University of California, Los Angeles which has provided a worthy softball rival and was Arizona's main basketball rival in the early and mid-1990s.
The university's mascots are a pair of anthropomorphized wildcats named Wilbur and Wilma. The identities of Wilbur and Wilma are kept secret through the year as the mascots appear only in costume. In 1986, Wilbur married his longtime wildcat girlfriend, Wilma. Together, Wilbur and Wilma appear along with the cheerleading squad at most Wildcat sporting events. Arizona's first mascot was a real desert bobcat named "Rufus Arizona", introduced in 1915.
Wilbur was originally created by Bob White as a cartoon character in the university's humor magazine, Kitty Kat. From 1915 through the 1950s the school mascot was a live bobcat, a species known locally as a wildcat. This succession of live mascots were known by the common name of Rufus Arizona, originally named after Rufus von Kleinsmid, president of the university from 1914 to 1921. 1959 marked the creation of the first incarnated Wilbur, when University student John Paquette and his roommate, Dick Heller, came up with idea of creating a costume for a student to wear. Ed Stuckenhoff was chosen to wear the costume at the homecoming game in 1959 against Texas Tech and since then it has become a long-standing tradition. Wilbur celebrated his 50th birthday in November 2009.
In 1952 Jack K. Lee, an applicant for the UA's band directorship, departed Tucson by air following an interview with UA administration. From his airplane window, Lee observed the huge letters on the roof of the UA gymnasium reading "BEAR DOWN." Inspired, Lee scribbled down the music and lyrics to an up-tempo song. By the time his plane landed, he had virtually finished it. A few weeks later Lee was named the UA band director, and in September 1952, the UA band performed "Bear Down, Arizona!" in public for the first time. Soon thereafter, "Bear Down, Arizona!" became accepted as UA's fight song (Bear Down).
Officially implemented in 2003, ZonaZoo is the official student section and student ticketing program for the University of Arizona Athletics. The ZonaZoo program is co-owned by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) and Arizona Athletics yet run by a team of individuals called the ZonaZoo Crew. In 2014, ESPN ranked ZonaZoo as the top student cheering section in the PAC 12 conference and in 2015, ZonaZoo received the Best Student Section of the Year award from the National Collegiate Student Section Association.
The McKale Center, which opened in 1973, is currently used by men's and women's basketball, women's gymnastics, and women's volleyball. The official capacity has changed often. The largest crowd to see a game in McKale was 15,176 in 1976 for a game against the University of New Mexico, a main rival during that period. In 2000, the floor in McKale was dubbed Lute Olson Court, for the basketball program's winningest coach. During a memorial service in 2001 for Lute's wife, Bobbi, who died after a battle with ovarian cancer, the floor was renamed Lute and Bobbi Olson Court. In addition to the playing surface, McKale Center is host to the offices of the UA athletic department. McKale Center is named after J.F. Pop McKale, who was athletic director and coach from 1914 through 1957. Joe Cavaleri ("The Ooh-Aah Man") made his dramatic and inspiring appearances there. Arizona Stadium, built in 1928 and last expanded in 2013, seats 56,037 patrons. It hosts American football games and has also been used for university graduations. The turf is bermuda grass, taken from the local Tucson National Golf Club. Arizona football's home record is 258–139–12. The largest crowd ever in Arizona Stadium was 59,920 in 1996 for a game against Arizona State University. Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium hosts softball games. Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium hosted baseball games until the 2012 season, when the baseball program began playing home games at Hi Corbett Field, a former Cactus League spring training facility located three miles southeast of campus.
As of 2015, there are 49 fraternity and sorority chapters that are recognized by the University of Arizona. As of 2006, approximately 10.3% of male UA students were members of campus fraternities, and 10.8% of female students were members of sororities. The fraternities and sororities are governed by 4 governing councils. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) represents 25 fraternities, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) represents 6 historically African-American fraternities and sororities, the Panhellenic Association (PHC) represents 20 sororities and the United Sorority and Fraternity Council (USFC) represents 10 multicultural and multi-interest Greek organizations. Delta Chi Lambda is an Asian American sorority that was established at the University of Arizona in 2000. The Lambda chapter of Phrateres, a non-exclusive, non-profit social-service club, was installed in 1937.
A new and expansive Student Union building opened in 2003; it is the largest student union in the U.S. not affiliated with a hotel. The University of Arizona is home to more than 500 philanthropic, multi-cultural, social, athletic, academic, and student clubs and campus organizations. A listing is found at Associated Students of The University of Arizona (ASUA) through the Student Union. CSIL also houses the Arizona Blue Chip Program one of the largest collegiate-level leadership development programs in the United States, with over 500 active students at any one time throughout the 4 years of the program. Blue Chip was founded in 1999 and has formed a partnership with the University of Wollongong, in Wollongong, Australia where a sister program, the Black Opal Leadership Development Program began in February 2005. Structure, curriculum, students and even staff are exchanged between the two institutions in a unique international leadership development initiative. Also located in the CSIL is the office of Camp Wildcat, a student-run non-profit service organization that serves local disadvantaged youth. Through funding from the CSIL and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, clubs are given the resources and encouragement to explore unusual interests.
In 2008 University of Arizona students started their own branch (reinstated as of April 21, 2010) of the Arizona Students for Life (ASFL) pro-life association, whose goal is to help pregnant college women and raise awareness about elective abortion.
In 2015, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the University of Arizona for its food diversion efforts, giving particular recognition to the student-formed Compost Cats, a nationally unique organization.
The University of Arizona is home to the Arizona Model United Nations (AZMUN). Founded in 1963, this organization of UA students each year hosts several hundred high school students in a bilingual simulation of the United Nations and other international bodies.
In 2008, the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Student Affairs was created to provide services to LGBTQ students and staff on campus and serve opposite an existing student group called "Pride Alliance," a recognized LGBTQ student group that has been active since the 1990s in providing support and visibility to LGBTQ students on campus.
The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center helps students with learning and attention challenges to succeed in a higher education. Founded during the 1980-1981 academic year as a program within the Student Resource Center. At the time, SALT had provided academic services and accommodations up to three students with learning disabilities. During the 1990s, The SALT Center was located in the basement of Old Main, the oldest building at the university. During the time, SALT staff was located in tight offices while tutors conducted tutoring sessions around Old Main, often sitting outside, immersed in the sounds of everyday university life. In 2000, the SALT Center moved out of Old Main and into a 16,000 square-foot (4.9 cm2) building with the help of 500 individual donors, families, and parents in order to help serve better for the student population at the university. As of 2013, the SALT Center has more than 550 students at the University of Arizona with learning disabilities, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and a range of other learning and attention challenges.
For those who did not grow up in the US or who are working to gain English proficiency, the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) is also available. For more than 45 years, CESL has offered a variety of English language learning and teaching programs. Students are able to learn on campus while pursuing complete admission into the UA as they meet their English language proficiency requirements.
At the beginning of each school year, freshmen repaint the "A" on "A" Mountain, and since 1914 the "A" remains a Tucson and Wildcat landmark. The "A" was painted Red, White and Blue until all troops in foreign wars stemming from the September 11 attacks return home. This was passed by the ASUA student government body shortly after the war in Afghanistan began in 2001. As of 2016 the "A" on A mountain has returned to white. Later in the school year, Spring Fling, an ASUA Student Government program, and the largest student-run carnival in the U.S., has been held annually by UA students since 1965, under a different name: The Rites of Spring. The event occurs every April, and brings together the U of A community and the Tucson community. The UA club, Camp Wildcat, initially began the festival as a fundraiser and continued to do so until the event was taken over by ASUA in 1975.
The University of Arizona marching band, named The Pride of Arizona, played at the halftime of the first Super Bowl. Most recently, the Pride’s 2014 Daft Punk show was chosen by the CBDNA (College Band Directors National Association) as one of ten in the nation to be presented at their National Conference in March 2015. They are directed by UA alumnus and former Pride of Arizona member, Chad Shoopman. Instrumentation includes woodwinds, brass, and a marching percussion section, as well as a pomline, twirling line, and color guard.
The current school colors are UA Red and Arizona Blue, recognized in the Pantone Matching System, with the PMS number 200C and 281, respectively. In CMYK system, process color for UA Red is C: 18 M:100 Y:83 K:8, and C:100 M:71 Y:0 K:58 for Arizona Blue. Before 1900, the colors were sage green and silver. The switch was made when a lucrative discount on red and blue jerseys became available.
Overall, students at the University of Arizona have been represented by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) since 1913. Every year (usually in March), the students elect a Senator to represent each of the respective undergraduate colleges, three at large senators, an Administrative Vice President, an Executive Vice President and President to 1-year terms. The ASUA oversees the ZonaZoo and UA Spring Fling programs, while holding administrative oversight for the nearly 600 student clubs on campus. Each of the Senators and all Administrative Officers also are appointed to serve on the various University of Arizona Faculty and Administrative Committees. Students for Sustainability become an ASUA recognized program in 2008. It focuses on pursuing institutionalized sustainability throughout the University of Arizona and the greater Tucson area.
In 1997, the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) split from the ASUA and has since become the de facto body to represent issues specific to graduate and professional students. Each year (usually in late March or early April), the graduate and professional students elect 30 representatives by constituency in accordance to college graduate and/or professional student population, with three of those representatives elected at large. The Vice President and President are also elected at large by the graduate and professional student body. Much like ASUA, the GPSC appoints representatives to serve on various University of Arizona Faculty and Administrative Committees and 1 Director to serve on the Arizona Students' Association.
On-campus residents also have their own Student Leadership Organization known as the "Residence Hall Association". Anyone who lives on campus is automatically a member of RHA. The individual subunits of RHA consist of the hall councils of all 23 residence halls. Each Hall Council is one of three structures, Traditional, Hybrid and Open. Additionally each hall council has an EcoRep for Sustainability, and two RHA Representatives who are sent to represent their hall at RHA General Body Meetings and one ACT Rep for Social Justice. At these meetings, the gathered representatives and RHA Executive Board, elected from within the RHA General Body, discuss issues and make decisions concerning all 7,000 on campus residents. Members of the RHA Executive Board are elected to one-year terms during the spring semester and are sworn into office at the RHA Banquet usually held during the later part of April. Hall council members and RHA representatives are usually elected by the residents of their respective residence halls during the first 2 weeks of the Fall semester in late August and early September with their term running through the end of the Spring semester in early May. The RHA Executive Board consists of 8 different elected positions (President, Director of Public Relations, National Communications Coordinator, Director of Business Administration, Director of Equipment Services, Director of Training and Development, and Director of Programming) along with two ex-officio members, the appointed Parliamentarian position and the NRHH President as well as an advisor who holds the role of Coordinator for Student Leadership within Residence Life. In 2011, the Residence Hall Association revamped its Executive Board in effort to make the EBoard more parallel to the IACURH Regional Board and NACURH National Board.
The University of Arizona Residence Hall Association has hosted 3 regional IACURH Residence Hall Conferences, which were hosted in 1961, 1997, and 2004 and a "No Frills" Business meeting in 2013. In 2005 and 2012 the University of Arizona's Residence Hall Association was voted by NACURH (National Association of College and University Residence Halls) as the National School of the Year out of over 400 schools across the United States. In May 2009, the University of Arizona hosted the NACURH National Residence Hall Conference (also hosted in 1963), bringing more than 2,200 on-campus residents from over 250 schools across the United States and Canada for 3 days of school spirit and learning how to become more sustainable and socially just. The conference theme (Our Place in Time) focused on sustainability and social justice within the residence halls.
The university has made itself known through many films and television appearances. The film Revenge of the Nerds (1984) was filmed at the University of Arizona. In the movie, the Alpha Beta "jock" house was the real-life home to the UA chapter of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity until purchased by the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity in the late 1980s. The dorm room (with the balcony) seen in the film is located on the third floor of historic Cochise Hall on campus. When the characters are moving in at the beginning of the movie, the dorm behind the post office drop is Yuma Hall.
In the 1994 film Speed, Dennis Hopper refers to Sandra Bullock's character as a Wildcat because of the emblem on her sweater.
In the 1989 film "Leviathan", Peter Weller's character, Steven Beck, frequently wears an Arizona Wildcats hat. In the 2006 film You, Me and Dupree, produced by Arizona Alum Scott Stuber, several characters are watching the Arizona Wildcats play football against Washington State University. While playing in their blue uniforms, Arizona scores on a fumble recovery.
The film Eating Out was shot around the University of Arizona campus in Tucson.
An episode of Little House on the Prairie, entitled "A Wiser Heart," used Old Main as a prominent backdrop throughout.
The film Night of the Lepus (1972) features a short shot of Old Main in the first few minutes. The university appears at the end of the film as well.
Portions of David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest take place at the University of Arizona campus, including a scene in the administration building satirizing the school's bureaucracy. Wallace was an alumnus of UA.
Notable alumni include U.S. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva; the creator of the television series Sesame Street and founder of the Children's Television Workshop Joan Ganz Cooney; NFL quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams Nick Foles; Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert; Jerry Bruckheimer, film and television producer; singer Linda Ronstadt; stand-up comedian, director, and producer Garry Shandling; NFL tight end for the New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski; NFL linebacker Lance Briggs; Macy's, Inc. CEO and president Terry Lundgren; Today Show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie; Brian Schmidt, winner of 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics (1989); Barbara Kingsolver, author awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000; Softball player and Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch; Richard Jefferson, NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers; NBA player for the Golden State Warriors, Andre Iguodala; NBA head coach for the Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr; NBC sideline reporter Alex Flanagan; reporter, author, and talk show host Geraldo Rivera; musician and photographer Linda McCartney; entrepreneur Viputheshwar Sitaraman; artist Ted DeGrazia, known for his depictions of the American Southwest; actor and television personality Greg Kinnear; novelist and screenwriter Richard Russo; actress Kate Walsh; TV personality Kourtney Kardashian; former Mayor of Palm Springs, California (1995––2003) William G. Kleindienst; actress Kristen Wiig; author David Foster Wallace; and several NASA astronauts. Two Nobel laureate on the faculty are members of the College of Optical Sciences: Nicolaas Bloembergen (Physics, 1981) and Willis E. Lamb (Physics, 1955). The University of Arizona has eight Pulitzer Prize winners (alumni and faculty), and more than 50 faculty as elected members of exclusive academies including Britain's Royal Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.