The University of Arizona

Donald and Joan Diamond Honored with Alumni Award

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications | May 12, 2010

Christopher J. Vlahos, president and executive director of the UA Alumni Association, will present the award to the philanthropical Diamonds during the UA Spring Commencement Ceremony on May 14.

UA Almuni Achievement Award honorees Donald and Joan Diamond.
UA Almuni Achievement Award honorees Donald and Joan Diamond.
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Donald R. and Joan B. Diamond will be honored with the University of Arizona Alumni Achievement Award during the UA's 142nd Commencement ceremony on May 14.

The award is given to alumni who have demonstrated outstanding service to the UA and attained prominence nationally in their fields.

Christopher J. Vlahos, president and executive director of the UA Alumni Association, will present the award to the Diamonds during the graduate ceremony.

For more than four decades, the Diamonds have played a major role in advancing the UA and greater Tucson community as well as national and international health, education and service organizations.

The Diamonds met while they were UA students – Donald majored in business and Joan in voice and piano. They were married a few years afterward, as Donald began a career in the commodities business in New York City. In 1965, the Diamond family returned to Tucson to stay. Donald began a hugely successful career in business and real estate development, and he and Joan initiated their mutual vocation – philanthropy – for which they now are renowned.

The Diamonds' charitable endeavors include support for education, medical advancement, Jewish community life, and health and human services. Their generosity has benefitted the Arizona Cancer Center at University Medical Center North Peter and Paula Fasseas Cancer Clinic, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, UA Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, and the UA Steele Children's Research Center.

Fittingly, the Diamonds were named Tucson's Outstanding Philanthropists by the Tucson chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Recognizing the significance early childhood education plays in the development of lifelong learners – and how investment in the earliest years paves the way for success – the Diamonds made a matching gift that helped develop the winning research grant proposal to create the First Things First External Evaluation. Funded in 2009 by a $27 million grant, the research program is headquartered at the UA College of Education.

The project closest to the Diamonds' heart, and perhaps the crown jewel of their philanthropy, began with a commitment of $15 million to launch the campaign for Tucson's first comprehensive children's medical center.

In recognition of the Diamonds' generosity, the facility was named the Diamond Children's Medical Center. The medical center is a family centered environment that brings together the expertise of UA College of Medicine physicians, UA Steele Children's Research Center's state-of-the-art medical breakthroughs and UMC's expert pediatric care.

Donald and Joan Diamond exemplify the principle that local business, higher education and the community must support each other. Their strong work ethic, solid commitment to the needs of the community, and extraordinary generosity personify the ideals of the finest UA alumni. Their enlightened philanthropy has improved the lives of countless children and families.