Former University of California Regents Roy Brophy and Alice Gonzales were honored Monday evening (May 20) as the first recipients of the University of California, Davis, Medal.
Presented at a special Chancellor’s Residence dinner, the medal is the highest honor the campus accords to individuals for their contributions to the university or the broader community of learning.
“Through this medal, we recognize today and in perpetuity those few individuals who, in truly extraordinary ways and by rare accomplishment, leave an indelible mark upon this university,” said UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vand-erhoef. “I can’t think of more deserving recipients of the first UC Davis Medals than Roy Brophy and Alice Gonzales. They have ensured that we will be better tomorrow for having had their guidance, their support and their unwavering commitment today.”
Alice Gonzales, the daughter of a migrant farm worker, learned early on the value of hard work, determination and a good education.
“As well, she learned and lived a commitment to public service and uncompromisingly high standards,” said Vanderhoef.
That personal and professional ethic ultimately resulted in her appointment as one of California government’s highest ranking Hispanic women director of the State Employment Development Department, an agency at that time with 11,000 employees and a $7.7 billion budget.
In 1990, Gonzales was appointed to the UC Board of Regents, completing her term in 1998. She represented the regents with the California Postsecondary Education Commission and served with similar distinction on numerous regental standing committees.
Of special interest to her were the university’s hospitals and medical centers.
“She was instrumental in ensuring that our medical center continued to thrive, even in these times of continuing challenge for academic medicine,” Vanderhoef added.
Gonzales said she was greatly honored to receive the UC Davis Medal.
“It’s a great country where all of us have the opportunity to succeed and to fail,” she said. “I did come from a very humble beginning, but life has been good and the journey has been wonderful. Serving on the Board of Regents was one of the highest points of my life.”
She thanked her six children for their love and support. “They were my inspiration to make my life worthwhile.”
A builder and developer by profession, Brophy applied what he knows best to the world of education.
For more than 40 years, he has built and developed public education, beginning with his service on the governing board of the San Juan School District and continuing through appointments to the governing boards of all three segments of California’s system of higher education the California Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California. He is the only person to hold that distinction.
A member of the UC Board of Regents from 1986 to 1998, Brophy twice served as chair and was a powerful and extraordinarily successful champion of the ideals of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education.
Brophy said the medal “brings my life into focus, including my years in public education, which have been so important to me. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to do the things I was able to do. I’ve had a wonderful life.”
Now 80 years old, Brophy said his continued service “keeps me alive and thinking” and permits him to do “what’s closest to my heart to keep focused on students.”