Donald R. and Joan B. Diamond Alumni Achievement Award
by Jennifer P. Rich
Few people personify the University of Arizona’s professional and humanitarian ideals as well as Donald R. and Joan B. Diamond, UA Class of 1951.
For more than four decades, the Diamonds have played a major role in advancing the UA, the greater Tucson community, and national and international health, education, and service organizations.
Donald and Joan 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’ many charitable endeavors include support for education, medical advancement, Jewish community life, and health and human services. A small sampling of the beneficiaries of the Diamonds’ generosity includes 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. Diamond Children’s 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 legacy — a strong work ethic, solid commitment to the needs of the community, and extraordinary generosity personify the ideals of the finest UA alumni, and their enlightened philanthropy has improved the lives of countless children and families. Everything they do in our community speaks volumes about the value of our university to Arizona and beyond.
We are honored to acknowledge and thank Donald and Joan Diamond. With much respect and gratitude, the University of Arizona Alumni Association and the UMC Foundation take great pleasure in presenting the Alumni Achievement Award to Donald R. and Joan B. Diamond.