A weekend of events is being held in March to honor the memory of the late Michael A. Cusanovich, a vocal advocate for the importance of attracting biotechnology and other high-tech industries to the University of Arizona and the state.
The first Michael A. Cusanovich Commemorative Weekend will be held March 2-3, and feature a scientific symposium on March 2 and a golf tournament the day after.
Cusanovich, who spent his entire academic career at UA, served as the Arizona Research Laboratories director in his most recent position.
He came to the UA in 1969 as an assistant professor of chemistry. Cusanovich later advanced to the rank of professor – he was named Regent's professor in 2005 – and also served the institution as provost, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College. Cusanovich died in April of 2010.
The symposium will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 445 S. Alvernon Way, featuring presentations by UA and other researchers from across the nation as well as researchers from Canada, Germany and Belgium.
"I had the opportunity to perform collaborative research with Mike and publish together, so I am especially thrilled that we are able to honor his science with such a great slate of speakers," said Vicki Wysocki, chair of the UA department of chemistry and biochemistry.
A silent auction will run in conjunction with the symposium, with the winners being announced after the dinner. Anyone can bid in the silent auction at either the DoubleTree on March 2 or by calling 520-465-8537.
A football autographed by UA football coach Rich Rodriguez, a basketball autographed by UA men's basketball coach Sean Miller, hotel stays, country club visits and tickets to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Arizona Theater Company, are among the dozens of items to be auctioned off.
The golf tournament will be held at the Randolph Golf Course, 600 S. Alvernon Way, Registration for the tournament closes Friday, Feb. 24.
"What we decided to do in the department was to honor Mike's science and to bring in a little fun with his passion for golf," said Beverly Travers, director of operations for the UA chemistry and biochemistry department, who suggested adding golf to the commemorative weekend.
The tournament will benefit The Mike Cusanovich CBC Student Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will be awarded to a graduate student in UA's department of chemistry and biochemistry.
Wysocki also said: "The golf tournament will be a fun event, with several of our faculty, staff and students golfing, and we hope that many in the campus community will come out to join us."
Ryan Sprissler, a geneticist who worked for Cusanovich at UA's Arizona Research Laboratories, also played golf with him. Sprissler plans to play in the tournament to honor his former boss and mentor.
"Mike just loved to golf – he just loved it," said Sprissler, a staff scientist at ARL. "He was a man who had a great demeanor on the course and a short game to match. He was never afraid to give you a few tips on what you were doing wrong – and not very forgiving of his own game."
Marilyn Halonen, Cusanovich's widow, confirmed his passion for golf.
"Probably more than 30 years ago, Mike and I would go late in the afternoon to Randolph and try to stay ahead of the sprinklers and play until dark," said Halonen, a UA professor of pharmacology emeritus. She will be playing in the tournament in a foursome of women scientists.
Halonen said other family members planning to participate in the tournament include their son, Darren Cusanovich, and his wife, Stacey Lindstrom, along with and their grandson Conor Allard, who is coming from Elko, Nev.
Sprissler said: "Mike was a mentor to me. I always just really looked up to him. I'm really glad people are doing this in his memory. Mike's passion for golf was rivaled only by his passion for science."