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AZ Week Notebook – June 2011

WHAT WILL THE NEXT CENTURY'S FIVE CS BE?

Every Arizona school kid ought to be able to name the state's Five Cs, the hallmarks of economics and culture that shaped Arizona's first century as a state.

Copper, cattle, cotton, climate and citrus.

Now come preparations for the centennial celebration, culminating in the Feb. 14, 2012 recounting of President William Taft signing the law making Arizona the 48th state.

Festivities galore are in the planning stages, and we will hear about some of them on Friday's Arizona Week. At the same time, the state's Centennial Commission director sees the celebration as an opportunity to look forward.

"Who do we want to be in the future, not just from a culture and a people, but how do we want to take care of our land and what industries are really going to be the Five Cs, if you will, of the next 100 years?" Centennial Commission Director Karen Churchard asks in an interview.

Watch Friday at 8:30 p.m. MST and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. MST, PBS-HD-6, or on this Website for more discussion of the state's legacy and its future.


UA AUTHOR UPDATES ARIZONA HISTORY

History looks backward with the notion of preparing us to look forward. In the case of University of Arizona anthropologist Thomas E. Sheridan, that backward look in Arizona: A History includes some potentially frightening scenarios for the future.

Sheridan's history was published in 1995, and now with the statehood centennial approaching, he has updated the book, adding chapters on the state's most recent history -- its population boom and desert land consumption and economic development.

The forward look that he gives should cause the reader to pause and reflect on where our state is headed. Sheridan will discuss the state's prehistory, history and his view of its future on Arizona Week Friday at 8:30 p.m. on PBS-HD-6.

The new edition of Arizona: A History will be published by University of Arizona Press in time for Arizona's statehood centennial next February.


ARIZONA'S CENTENNIAL: FOCUSING ON LEGACY

Arizona Week on Friday will focus on the state's legacy as manifest in its people and customs and in the plans and projects under way for statehood centennial next year.

Interviews for Friday's program will include:

-- Dora Vasquez, chair of the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission, which is reviewing proposals for Arizona Legacy Projects. They are described as projects that portray significant aspects of Arizona history, offer wide public wide access and sustainable beyond 2012.

-- Karen Churchard, director of the Arizona Centennial Commission, which is raising money for the celebrations and coordinating the planning of numerous activities statewide for the Feb. 14, 2012 anniversary.

-- Thomas Sheridan, a University of Arizona anthropologist who has written a history of the state and of Tucson's Mexican-American population in the 19th and 20th centuries.

-- Ned Norris, chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, descendants of the Pima people who have lived in Arizona the longest -- 4,000 years or more -- and whose ancient language gave Arizona its name.


ARIZONA'S CENTENNIAL FESTIVITIES: WORK IN PROGRESS

By DIANA SOKOLOVA, Arizona Week intern

The Grand Canyon state is counting down the days till its 100th birthday. The official commemoration began in January 2011 with planning for celebrations all over the state.

Arizona was admitted to the union as the 48th state on Feb. 14, 1912.

The Arizona Centennial Commission, established by Gov. Jan Brewer, is planning and coordinating a wide range of festivals, events and projects.

Initially, $5.5 million was allocated from the state general fund for grants to organize communities’ celebration events, but it wasa cut because of the state's tough economic times.

The centennial commission is relying on private donations, sponsors and volunteers and hopes to get Arizona's 120 cities and towns, 15 counties and 22 Native American tribes involved.

Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott will participate in the "Arizona Best Fest," feature restaurants, wineries, microbreweries, local foods and traditional arts and crafts highlighting Arizona traditions and cultures.

Arizona Week will pursue interviews with Native American tribal leaders, a historian and the head of the centennial commission for Friday's program.


IT'S ABOUT ACADEMICS, BUT DO ATHLETICS RULE?

A university’s athletic success generally does not translate into donations for academics.

Stated another way: Victory on the playing field doesn’t mean more money in the classroom.

So why do the main fund-raising bodies of Arizona’s two biggest universities emphasize athletics so much?

For example, walk into the lobby of the Arizona State University Foundation in Tempe and you see a prominent display of sports paraphernalia – buttons saying “Beat Arizona”, sports balls of all sizes and pennants. There’s nary a math textbook or history tome in sight.

Or, log onto the University of Arizona Foundation’s Website, and in the news window, the No. 2 story – right behind Robert Shelton’s resignation – is about a multi-million dollar gift for the football stadium.

Now granted, when I spoke with the heads of those foundations this week, they emphasized academics and never mentioned sports.

But playing up athletics is clearly among their marketing strategies. Why? There’s no corollary with raising money for academics. Alumni association officials and many others have said so. And history supports them.

Take last year, when the UA Foundation raised $148 million in the midst of the recession, a stellar achievement. In the same year, the men’s basketball team missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1984, and the football team got shellacked in a bowl game and several other outings.

If there is a corollary, why weren’t contributions in the tank?

It’s worth noting that nearly $12 million of that $148 million donated to the UA last year went to athletics, compared with $7 million for student scholarships.

Perhaps the difference is that a physics professor hard at work in her laboratory or an English professor explaining Beowulf to his students wouldn’t fill the McKale Center.


AZ'S PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES GO PRIVATE

Total assets for the three foundations that support the state's three universities have seen increases in the last year, as the economy moves farther from the recession.

At the same time, they haven't come back to the contributions levels they were seeing before the recession hit.

At Northern Arizona University, foundation President Mason Gerety said fund-raising totaled $10 million in the last year and should hit $16 million in the coming year.

Similar increases, but on a bigger scale, were seen by both the Arizona State University Foundation and the University of Arizona Foundation.

All are working to shore up support for the universities as state funding continues to decline.

To assess the full picture, we will talk with Gerety and the heads of the ASU and UA foundations for Friday's Arizona Week.

About AZ Week Notebook

News and commentary from Arizona Week producer/host Michael Chihak and interns Melanie Huonker and Lucy Valencia.