Diversity Advocate Edie Auslander to Retire This Summer

Diversity Advocate Edie Auslander to Retire This Summer

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGillUniversity Communications
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No matter where her professional pursuits have taken her, Edith "Edie" Sayre Auslander has somehow always ended up back at The University of Arizona.

Her career led her through newsrooms, classrooms and board rooms. But along the way there have been several stops on campus – as a student, as a teacher, as a fund raiser and as a vice president.

“I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in the areas that are important to me and that I am passionate about,” said Auslander, UA vice president and senior associate to the president, who is retiring this summer. A reception will be held for her tomorrow from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the UA Museum of Art.

Her father, William Sayre, was the first self-identified Mexican-American fireman/engineer to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Auslander – who received two journalism degrees from the UA, a bachelor's in 1961 and a master's in 1975 – continued the family tradition by becoming the first self-identified Hispanic woman to be appointed to the Arizona Board of Regents and the first self-identified Hispanic woman to be named a vice president at the UA.

Her career began at the Arizona Catholic Lifetime, where she was managing editor for 16 years. She then spent several years, 1973 to 1981, at the Arizona Daily Star, where she was a features writer, a general assignment reporter, an education reporter, a copy editor, and a section editor. It was a time when women, and especially Hispanic women, were not routinely found in the newsroom.

She began working at the UA in 1977 as a member of the journalism department's faculty and as co-director of the Editing Program for Minority Journalists, which received national acclaim. During those years, Auslander earned a reputation as an accomplished and caring teacher.

With an invitation from then Gov. Bruce Babbitt in 1984 to serve an eight-year term on the Arizona Board of Regents, she bid a temporary goodbye to the UA. It doesn't bother her to think she might have won the appointment on the basis of being a Hispanic woman; instead, she sincerely hopes that was exactly the reason for her inclusion on the board.

During her term, Auslander helped guide Arizona's three public universities through a period of rapid growth and change. She was a firm and constant voice for the interests of women, students and faculty. During her term as the board's president, from 1989-90, she initiated a system-wide study on the status of women.

By then, her career had led her to Tucson Newspapers, where she served as the equal employment opportunity officer and vice president of human resources from 1984 to 2000. There, she honed her skills as a champion of inclusiveness and received six national awards for her human resources work, plus certification as Senior Professional in Human Resources.

"Edie is calm and deliberate and has a dynamic of including everyone with a multicultural approach and always asks, ‘What do you think?'” said Joel D. Valdez, UA senior vice president for business affairs.

The turn of the century brought Auslander back to the UA, this time as director of development for the Alumni Association and later as vice president and senior associate to President Emeritus Peter Likins and President Robert N. Shelton. In the latter role, she has overseen regents affairs, the Ombuds Program, the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office and the Diversity Resource Office.

Auslander’s contributions to the Tucson community have been numerous. In 1986 she was named Woman of the Year by the Tucson Chamber of Commerce. She also has been named to the halls of fame of the UA Student Media Foundation and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The YWCA has honored her as a Woman on the Move and presented her with an Iris Dewhirst award.

Auslander, one of the founders of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, has been listed in the Hispanic Business magazine as one of 100 influential U.S. Hispanics and in Replica magazine as one of 25 Hispanic Women of the Year.

Auslander believes that "everyone has value" – although she understates her own.

“I feel like I have singularly been awarded for work that I couldn’t have done alone. Everything I’ve done has been collaborative and I’ve been lucky to be at the right place and right time with the right people to make it happen.”

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