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It is with profound sadness that we share the passing of Dr. Maria Teresa (“MT”) Velez. Dr. Velez, a clinical psychologist by training who, not only served in many leadership positions but also found time to mentor her students and serve as a role model to many in her community. She served as the Associate Dean of the Graduate College at University of Arizona (UA) for over 17 years, during which she prioritized increasing the diversity of the student body and made a difference in the personal and professional lives of her students. Dr. Velez was known for her strong commitment and enthusiasm for inclusion of a diverse group of scholars in biomedical careers, which she demonstrated by securing over $40 million dollars in extramural funds to transform the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups at UA. Her academic achievements and numerous awards not only reflect her outstanding years of service but also her compassion and outstanding character. A character reflected in the numerous personal testimonials from her students.
Dr. Velez also served on the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) national board, a strong partner to our very own NRMN, and was on the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH Diversity Work Group that helped plan the structure of this initiative. She also served in the Search Committee for the Chief Officer for the Scientific Workforce Development at the NIH.
Please join us in celebrating her life and her involvement in making the NIH Diversity Program Consortium what it is today. We thank her for her influence in the lives of students and early career faculty, her commitment in transforming the biomedical workforce, and for being a testament that “cuando se quiere, se puede”. When there’s a will there’s a way. Si se puede!
The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.