The University of Arizona's undefeated men's basketball team has been ranked No. 1 in the country for five consecutive weeks.

Off the court, the UA has plenty of other No. 1 distinctions, bests and first-evers. From leading a mission to Mars to saving lives with a total artificial heart, there's a long list of reasons why it's a great time to be a Wildcat.

  • Can you name the teams who played in the first Super Bowl? We can't either. But we can tell you one of the bands that played that day: the UA's very own Pride of Arizona. The band performed during halftime at the 1967 game, which was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Photo credit: The University of Arizona Alumni Association

  • Speaking of large places where people work up a sweat, guess which college or university recreational facility in the U.S. was the first to earn LEED platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. That would be the UA's Student Recreation Center, which was commended for its sustainable design.  

Photo credit: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews

  • In the health sciences, UA physicians and researchers have led the charge in developing the medical practice of the future. The UA's Dr. Andrew Weil founded a new field of medicine – known as integrative medicine – with the establishment of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in 2004. It was the first center of its kind.

  • And a first-of-its-kind program founded at the UA is working to remedy that problem, teaching bedside manner and effective non-verbal communication to medical students. In the program, UA surgeon Dr. Allan Hamilton teaches interpersonal skills and bedside manners using horses.
  • The UA has long been at the forefront in cardiovascular disease treatment and research. In 2004, a total artificial heart developed and tested at the UA was the first in the world to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Sarver Heart Center Resuscitation Research Group took the lead on improving CPR methods, and developed chest-compression-only CPR, which has been found to be more effect than mouth-to-mouth CPR in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. The method has since been endorsed by the American Heart Association.

  • And last year, UA surgeons Dr. Zain Khalpey and Dr. Robert Poston performed the world's first robotic implantation of a ventricular assist device, using the surgical robot to help John Hulslander, 67, who was losing his battle with ischemic cardiomyopathy.

John Hulslander and his wife, Ellen Hulslander.

  • The first Navajo woman to be board certified in surgery also hails from the UA. That honor belongs to Dr. Lori Alvord, the College of Medicine's associate dean for student affairs and admission.

  • When Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced her pick for the state's first poet laureate, guess which university could claim him as their alum. The UA, of course. Alberto Álvaro Ríos, who was named Arizona's inaugural Poet Laureate in 2013, earned three degrees from the UA: a bachelor's degree in literature and creative writing in 1974, a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1975 and a master's degree in creative writing in 1979.

Photo credit: Tom Story/Arizona State University

  • Where is the best place in North America to learn about 20th century photography? That would be the Center for Creative Photography, home to the largest collection of photographic documentation of American photographers, including Edward Weston, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Lola Alvarez Bravo and Ansel Adams, who co-founded the center.
  • And how many universities can say they created a new science? We can. The University's A.E. Douglas founded the science of dendrochronology in 1937. The UA is home to the world's first laboratory dedicated to tree-ring research and houses the world's oldest tree.

Photo credit: Patrick McArdle/UANews

  • In space sciences, the UA's has distinguished itself internationally and logged more than one achievement into the record books. The UA was the first public university to lead a mission to Mars. The Phoenix Mars Mission, launched in August 2007, was the first in NASA's "Scout Program." UA scientists also were the first to identify minerals on the surface of Mars. Today, the UA is preparing to lead a first-of-its-kind asteroid mission. Scheduled for launch in 2016,OSIRIS-REx will be the first spacecraft destined to return a sample from a primitive asteroid, which could hold clues about the origin of the solar system and life on Earth. 

  • And back in 1987, the first astronomers to directly observe a star forming were from the UA. Rich Kowalski of the UA's Catalina Sky Survey is the first astronomer to see an asteroid headed for Earth before it arrived.


Photo courtesy of Rich Kowalski

  • And the UA is the top-ranked research university for planetary exploration with regard to citations in the scientific literature. UA planetary research articles were quoted more than 10,000 times over the last 10 years, according to When it comes to environmental research, the UA is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. by Journal: Science of the Total Environment.

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