First UC Davis medals presented

Former UC Regents Roy Brophy and Alice Gonzales were honored Monday evening as the first recipients of the UC 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 Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef.

"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."

  • Honoree Brophy

    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 UC. He is the only person to hold that distinction.

    "His understanding of the challenges of public education couldn't be more complete, his dedicated support more generous or his affection for this university more genuine," said Vanderhoef.

    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.

    "Those who know Roy know he's a plain talker - he speaks with courage and with heart, and always from an ethical center and always with the university's best interests in mind," Vanderhoef added.

    When Brophy left the board in 1998, he didn't retire from university service. He currently serves as chair of the board of the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, which studies causes and potential treatments for such disorders as autism, attention deficit disorder and dyslexia. He also holds a seat on the UC Davis Health System's Leadership Council and transplant advisory board, and is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. Additionally, he is a member of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees.

    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, at 80, 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."

    • Honoree Gonzales

    The daughter of a migrant farm worker, Alice Gonzales 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 state 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.

    Her devotion to those in need was reflected in earlier appointments as director of the California Department of Aging, and of the San Mateo Agency on Aging. Additionally, she provided leadership to the San Mateo County Criminal Justice Council, the United Way, the American Cancer Society, the Comprehensive Employment Training Act Commission, the Human Service Capacity Building Task Force, and the State Council on Development Disabilities.

    In 1990, Gonzales was appointed to the UC Board of Regents, completing her term in 1998. She represented the regents with the California Postsecondary Edu-cation Commission and served with similar distinction on numerous regental standing committees.

    "No regent has given more willingly or generously of his or her time and energy to promoting the best interests of the University of California throughout the system and over the length and breadth of California," said Vanderhoef.

    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."

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