Cal Poly Pomona Pays Tribute to University Advancement's Ron Simons at Founders? Celebration


Cal Poly Pomona Pays Tribute to University Advancement's Ron Simons at Founders? Celebration
Paul Anka sings a special rendition of “My Way” to Ron Simons, associate vice president for special projects, who was honored for his lifelong dedication to Cal Poly Pomona.
UET board member Mickey Segal ('80) introduced the Ronald R. Simons Scholarship Endowment, beginning with a total of $135,000 that was donated by university supporters.
Ron Simons watches a video tribute to his career with wife, Judy, and Betty Ortiz during Founders' Celebration 2006.

Ron Simons, University Advancement's associate vice president for special projects, was honored for his lifelong dedication to Cal Poly Pomona at Founders' Celebration 2006 on March 5 at the Pacific Palms Resort.

Just before the fundraising auction, President Michael Ortiz surprised Simons and his wife, Judy, and directed the audience's attention to video screens on each side of the banquet room. He led the crowd of nearly 600 university supporters, alumni, faculty and staff in a tribute to Simons.

“Tonight, we honor a once-in-a-lifetime member of the Cal Poly Pomona family,” said Ortiz.

A video montage highlighting Simons' 45-plus years at the university featured photographs and interviews with Ortiz and Cal Poly Pomona presidents emeriti Bob H. Suzuki and Hugh O. La Bounty, under whose administrations Simons has served. To view the video, click here for low bandwidth or here for mid bandwidth. Videos are best viewed using Windows Media Player. To download Windows Media Player, click here.

Following the video tribute, University Educational Trust board member Mickey Segal ('80) introduced the Ronald R. Simons Scholarship Endowment. A  total of $121,600 was raised for the endowment, highlighted by a $50,000 gift from the estate of Keith Kellogg as well as $10,000 pledges from Sarah and Art Ludwick, Mickey and Lee Segal, Andrew and Peggy Cherng (Panda) and Kent Valley (Majestic).

Known as Mr. Cal Poly Pomona to alumni and colleagues, Simons officially retired this academic year but continues to serve as a retired annuitant in the position of associate vice president for special projects.

Simons came to the university in 1959 as an undergrad at what was then an all-male institution. He earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy and another in agricultural business management (with a three-year Army stint in between). While working on his second degree, Simons recognized a need for an alumni office on the Pomona campus as the university had recently split from the San Luis Obispo campus. He mentioned this to then University President Robert Kramer, who recommended Simons start up the project. Without budget or dedicated office space, Simons began what is now the division of University Advancement supported by nearly 45 employees today.

Over the years, Simons has held the lead management positions in development, alumni affairs, public and governmental affairs, and served as an executive assistant to the president. Prior to retiring, Simons held the position of associate vice president for university development.

Throughout his development and fundraising work, Simons has been involved in nearly every improvement project on campus. He managed the fundraising for the Aratani Japanese Garden, the $2.1 million renovation of Kellogg House Pomona, the early campaign for the Kellogg West Conference Center and current improvements to Voorhis Park. One of his most significant contributions was his work in creating the university's first endowed chair, the Hugh O. La Bounty Chair for Interdisciplinary Knowledge. He has also remained involved in the Cal Poly Pomona University Educational Trust, which manages the university's $25 million endowment.

In addition to his advancement work, Simons has remained dedicated to the Cal Poly Universities' famous Tournament of Roses Parade float as both a volunteer and adviser since his days as a student. In fact, he met his wife, Judy, while working on the float.

“I consider the time and energy I have dedicated over these many years to be the second best decision of my life — of course the marriage to my wife Judy being number one,” says Simons. “I will always treasure the myriad of events and activities I was able to share in creating or advancing; but without question, the countless number of friendships I have developed over these many years is clearly the best possible reward for the time I have dedicated to Cal Poly Pomona.”

Founders' Celebration is the university's annual benefit to raise funds for student scholarships and academic enhancement. Since its inception in 1999, Founders' Celebration has raised more than $1.5 million. This year's event was co-sponsored by the Cal Poly Pomona University Educational Trust (UET) and Collins School alumnus Hae Park and his wife, Shina. This year, internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter Paul Anka highlighted the evening as an encore to his 2003 performance. He performed a special rendition of “My Way” in honor of Simons.

Check back on PolyCentric in the coming weeks to read more about the fundraising event.