The University of Arizona Foundation Board of Trustees has donated $40,000 to the Joel D. Valdez Endowment in American Governance.
Established as a tribute to Valdez' 20 years of service as UA senior vice president of business affairs, the endowment fund will help recruit and retain high-quality faculty in the School of Government and Public Policy. Valdez officially retires June 30.
"We are delighted that the UA Foundation is honoring Joel Valdez for his exemplary career in public service. When fully funded, The Joel Valdez Endowment in American Governance will help the School of Government and Public Policy retain its most productive faculty," said Brint Milward, director of the School of Government and Public Policy.
Valdez' lasting legacy will be the countless lives he has directly and indirectly touched in the community through his decades of public service, said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
"My hope is that this tremendous tribute to Joel's long and illustrious career encourages his many colleagues and friends to contribute in his honor," Jones said.
Two longtime Valdez associates already have made gift commitments to the endowment. Richard Grand, a personal injury attorney and a graduate of the UA James E. Rogers College of Law, said he doesn't know anyone who has contributed more to the community than Valdez.
Jim Ronstadt worked with Valdez on two occasions, first when Valdez was Tucson city manager and later when Ronstadt worked in development at the UA. "He was an excellent administrator for the city of Tucson," Ronstadt said. "I thought [the endowment] was a fitting way to have him honored in perpetuity."
UA President Robert N. Shelton is one of four university presidents who benefitted from Valdez' steady guidance during major campus expansion, two decades of state budget cuts and three economic recessions.
"It is impossible to encompass the full value of Joel's expertise and counsel to me personally," Shelton said. "Joel is a unique leader and the University of Arizona has been fortunate to receive his wisdom and energy over the years."
Shelton added that Valdez provided immeasurable support of diversity on campus through hiring, mentoring, educating, and encouraging employees and students to achieve their full potential.
A lifelong Tucsonan, Valdez graduated from the UA in 1959 with a degree in education and served as Tucson city manager for 16 years from 1974-90.
UA President Emeritus Henry Koffler recruited Valdez to the UA in 1990. "His most visible impact has been the many construction projects and the creative financing involved in getting them built during times of serious financial constraints," he said.
His best recognized success is the Student Union Memorial Center. He guided the University to obtain the $70 million building for about $60 million, by way of mini-bonds and design-build construction.
Valdez' work has been both nationally and internationally acknowledged. The list of awards include the American Society of Public Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Hispanic Professional Action Committee, the UA Alumni Association and UA Hispanic Alumni, Distinguished Achievement Award from the Arizona State University College of Public Programs and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the UA College of Education.
By John C. Brown, UA Foundation, May 14, 2010