Death of faculty felt on campus

An+altar+was+set+up+on+the+second+floor+of+the+Cesar+Chavez+building+in+memory+of+Richard+Ruiz%2C+department+head+for+the+UA+Department+of+Mexican+American+Studies.+Faculty+members+and+students+from+the+MAS+department+gathered+at+10am+on+Monday+to+commemorate+their+department+head.

Brandi Walker

An altar was set up on the second floor of the Cesar Chavez building in memory of Richard Ruiz, department head for the UA Department of Mexican American Studies. Faculty members and students from the MAS department gathered at 10am on Monday to commemorate their department head.

Brandi Walker

Students and faculty members from the UA Department of Mexican American Studies gathered at the Cesar E. Chavez building on Monday to commemorate Richard Ruiz, department head, who passed away on Friday.

Sofia Ramos, an affiliate faculty member of the Mexican-American studies department, said Ruiz taught everyone in the department many lessons, such as how to be strong, to be heard and to fight.

“For the department, he was such a godsend,” Ramos said. “I think that the best way to honor him is to make this place the best place ever, so that he can continue to be proud the way he was so happy and so proud. We have really good work to do, and he showed us to how to do it.”

John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said his college is there to provide support and take any leadership roles if necessary.

Lydia Otero, associate professor of the Mexican-American studies department, suggested a weekly meeting should be held from this point forward through the end of the semester. The meeting would provide an outlet for both graduate and undergraduate students, as well as faculty members, to come and share their feelings, process what has happened and regroup each week.

Ruiz was a Faculty Fellow and worked closely with many students outside the classroom setting while at the UA. He was dedicated to mentoring students and helping guide them along the path to graduation.

Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, adjunct lecturer of Mexican-American studies, said Ruiz was the most generous person she’s encountered at the UA. She said Ruiz consistently spent numerous hours working with graduate students and that his door was always open.

“He did it year in and year out,” Goldsmith said. “His contribution is just so beyond what most people in this school do for the students. I am just so amazed at his generosity, at his knowledge.”

Goldsmith then addressed the graduate and undergraduate students in the room and said they are lucky to have had some time with Ruiz because he was a wonderful role model.

Anna O’Leary, associate professor of the Mexican-American studies department, said she remembers Ruiz’s nonjudgmental personality.

“He made everybody feel as if they were special, that you were important and that every contribution was an important one, that your decisions were the right decisions,” O’Leary said. “Very few people make you feel that way.”

Marian Binder, director of Counseling and Psych Services, said she knew Ruiz through Faculty Fellows and she announced that CAPS is available to anyone who needs any help during their grieving process.

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