Political Science Alum Carol Dorsey is SBS’s 2024 SBS Alumna of the Year

Feb. 13, 2024
Carol Dorsey around green trees

On Feb. 22, the University of Arizona will confer Alumni of the Year awards on 15 accomplished graduates in recognition of their achievements, public service, advocacy for education, volunteerism and service to students, the colleges and the university.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is pleased to name Carol Dorsey the 2023-2024 SBS Alumna of the Year for her unwavering support of education.

Carol is a third-generation Arizonan and the first in her family to graduate from college. After earning a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Arizona in 1975, she became involved in regional politics and worked at the Pima Association of Governments, providing public information about regional water policies and conservation required by the 1972 Clean Water Act. Carol served on the City of Tucson land use planning committee, helped found the West University Neighborhood Association, and volunteered with the League of Women Voters.

Carol chaired the campaign for Pima County Supervisor of David Yetman, host of the award-winning PBS series “The Desert Speaks” and “In the Americas with David Yetman.” In the decades since, Carol and her husband, Bob, have remained close friends with Yetman, and they are generous supporters of “In the Americas.” Thanks to their gifts, the show’s website now includes course curricula for educators. They also donate to the Southwest Center in the UArizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, where Yetman is a research social scientist.

“Carol and her husband, Bob, for the last three years, have had a tremendous impact on the SWC’s research and educational mission, allowing us to expand our global reach, especially through their investment in the PBS series, ‘In the Americas with David Yetman,’” said Jeffrey Banister, director of the Southwest Center. “The series takes a fresh look at the great diversity of places that make up the Western Hemisphere. This type of educational programming is important to Carol, and her support has ensured that the series continues.”

“Bob and I think one role of higher education is to provide an avenue for the community to experience things that they wouldn’t otherwise experience, to open their minds and hearts, and see the world through someone else’s eyes,” Carol said. “I think David and his crew are really valuable for the whole community.”

Carol and Bob moved to Mississippi in the 1980s, and while living there she became aware of the disparity in educational access and outcomes for children with reading and learning differences. She partnered with the University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences, her local public school district and a private school in Dallas to spearhead a three-year project to identify and provide remediation for public school students with dyslexia and other learning differences. With a gift of $1 million, the Dorseys helped establish The North Mississippi Literacy Project, which provides teacher training and resources for early diagnosis of student learning differences. Over 2,000 students will be impacted by the Dorseys’ transformational gift in Mississippi.

Carol, who returned to Tucson in 2016 with her husband, also supports the humanitarian efforts of the Tucson Samaritans to supply life-saving water and food to migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert, the United Way of Tucson, and other community organizations. In 2021, she facilitated the new landscaping for the Tucson Sculpture Park, a free venue for visitors to enjoy large scale sculptures in a desert park setting.  She has supported renovations at San Xavier del Bac through Patronato San Xavier and provided a matching grant to help set up an emergency fund for UArizona Art students in crisis. 

SBS has informed Carol’s lifelong appreciation of regional artists, local and regional history, community development, historical preservation, and the fragility of our rich natural Southern Arizona environment.  She is delighted to be providing support to programs within SBS that broaden her world view and helped sustain her deep interest in the history, art, and cultures of the desert Southwest during her long hiatus in Mississippi.

Carol’s lifelong commitment to improving others' lives, her continuing practical application of her UArizona education, her demonstrated love of the Southwest, and her ongoing philanthropic dedication to advancing human knowledge make her the ideal Alumna of the Year for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.