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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Budget director mourned

    Members of the campus community are reeling from the loss of a “”great confidant and friend”” in Richard J. “”Dick”” Roberts, 61, the UA assistant vice president and budget director who died suddenly Sunday morning during a hike with friends.

    “”I’m still sort of numb and in shock,”” said Charles Ingram, assistant vice president of financial services, who worked with Roberts since his arrival at the UA in 1985.

    Ingram, who worked under Roberts for the past 15 years, described him as a passionate man who really cared about students.

    “”He was so passionate about education,”” Ingram said. “”He loved the students so much. He was one of the few (people) here who really got the reason that we’re here, the bigger picture.””

    Roberts died unexpectedly while hiking on the Douglas Spring trail of Saguaro National Park that starts the end of East Speedway Boulevard.

    His cause of death is pending results of an autopsy that will be released privately to the family, said Dawn Hanke, public information officer with the Pima County Sheriffs’ Office.

    Roberts came to the UA from Washington State University. After serving his first position as director of institutional finance, Roberts advanced through the budget office until being promoted to assistant vice president and budget director in 1998.

    Others who worked closely with him said Roberts was passionate about his job, had a great sense of humor and had a knack for clearly explaining to students and reporters how UA budgets and finances operated.

    “”Roberts was able to tackle difficult budget issues with others and still have everyone come out of meetings smiling,”” said Eugene Sander, UA provost.

    He understood what being a land-grant university meant and always made time for students, Sander said.

    “”You had to endure passionate speeches on budget and education and people would get all glossy-eyed,”” Ingram said with a laugh, “”but his heart was just so there.””

    In his time as budget director, Roberts oversaw the UA budget grow from $400 million in 1986 to the more than $1.7 billion it is today.

    Roberts is survived by his wife, Jean, and two sons, Chad and Scott.

    Information on funeral services is pending.

    In a message sent to the UA community, President Robert Shelton and Joel Valdez, senior vice president of business affairs, expressed their shock and sorrow at the news of Roberts’ death.

    “”The University of Arizona benefited enormously from his knowledge, insight and determination,”” they said in a statement. “”He was a friend to many people at the University of Arizona and will be greatly missed by all who have known and worked with him through the years.””

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