Dear Campus Community, Friends and Community members,
It is with a heavy heart that I’m writing to tell you that Dr. Maria Teresa Velez, Associate Dean of the Graduate College, passed away suddenly early yesterday morning, after a short but intense battle with cancer.
Maria Teresa, known by many as MT, was an irreplaceable fixture at the Graduate College. She transformed the graduate enterprise both in terms of promoting student diversity and inclusion and pushing for the highest levels of excellence. Under her leadership, the UA now leads all our other AAU-member universities and peer institutions in the percentage of graduate students who are Underrepresented Minorities (20%). The UA is also first in the country in graduating Native American PhDs and 8th in graduating Hispanic PhDs outflanked only by minority universities and those that graduate a much larger total number of PhDs each year. She garnered approximately $40 million in extramural funds to recruit and fund graduate students and support diversity. She developed training programs like the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium (UROC) to help prepare and motivate undergraduates to go to graduate school.
She is also to be remembered for her kindness and generosity and the way she invested all of her energy in seeing the success of her graduate students.
We will all miss MT greatly, but I hope you will join with me in offering her daughter, Mariel Velez and son Damien Velez and their extended families our deepest condolences. Cards may be sent to them c/o the Graduate College (University of Arizona, Tucson AZ 85721, USA)
Plans are forming for multiple memorial services. An announcement of a University-wide service will be made as soon as plans are finalized.
MT received many national awards and honors, but the Graduate College will be honoring her with one more. We will be offering the Dr. Maria Teresa Velez Diversity Leadership Scholarship. This award will be given annually to a graduate student who, through their teaching, research, or outreach and service, has demonstrated a commitment to furthering diversity in education, higher education, and the community at large. The award will consist of a cash stipend of $25,000 and a Graduate College Tuition Scholarship to cover full base tuition for one year, as well as a handsome plaque honoring the awardee and Dr. Velez and her pioneering contributions in this domain. This award will be funded by the Graduate College.
There is already another scholarship offered by the advocacy group Las Adelitas in MT’s honor. (http://lasadelitasarizona.nationbuilder.com/las_adelitas_scholarship). If you would like to make a donation in honor of MT, please click on this link. (Please do not send checks to the Graduate College, please send any donations directly to Las Adelitas)
Dean of the Graduate College