On my way to Espresso Art this afternoon, I saw University of Arizona president Robert Shelton standing by a truck parked by La Aldea residence hall. He was wearing a red t-shirt, holding a dolly full of brown boxes, and speaking to a UA parent.
Last fall, Shelton helped the new freshmen move into Coronado Hall, and he seems to be doing the same thing this year.
Shelton has been known to get to know students on a more personal level. From eating lunch with random UA students in the Student Union to saying “hello” to anyone willing to make eye contact, Shelton will go the extra mile to be courteous. You can say this should be expected of him, but believe it or not, many people don’t feel the need to be cheerful and friendly towards everyone, particularly authority figures like Shelton.
I probably had one of the most unusual yet valuable personal encounters with Shelton when I was a college freshman flying home to northern California one weekend. Shelton happened to sit next to me on the plane, and well, the Wildcat kindly published my story:
A chance encounter with the new president
After completing another long week of my freshman year, I was ready to sit back and enjoy my flight home three weeks ago. While everyone else seemed to indulge in the same idea of a break and keep to themselves, an older-looking man in the seat beside me smiled and commented on my Arizona sweatshirt. It did not take long for me to share my experiences with school, the football games and new friends at the UA.
Ten minutes into the conversation, I decided to ask the man a little more about himself. Judging by his interest in the UA, I asked if he was an alumnus. He simply said “No, I’m the new UA president.” Holding out his hand, he stated, “Hello, I’m Robert Shelton.” Feeling a bit oblivious and almost embarrassed, I apologized for not noticing in the first place and said he looked different at New Student Convocation. He did not mind at all and continued asking me all about my UA adventures, likes/dislikes and viewpoint. Perhaps he wanted insight on the freshman experience, but Shelton seemed very interested in what I had to say and wished me a nice trip home once the plane landed.
Shelton is new to this university, so I believe this may give students a better understanding of who he is as a person. Along with demonstrating decisiveness, getting work done and giving insight into local campaigns, Shelton expressed his genuine interest in UA students in talking to one for 20 minutes. As a modest, warm, proactive and hardworking president, Shelton will do great things for the UA.
freshman majoring in elementary education and creative writing
Thank you, President Robert Shelton for continuously reaching out to students on a personal level.