Dan Rodriguez Hangs It Up

Dan Rodriguez on the pep rally stage before the BCS football championship game in Glendale, Arizona. Photograph by Jack Liu

Dan Rodriguez has heard a lot of stories in his two decades as alumni director. Alumni call, sometimes they write, and frequently they need something. The alumni director is their man.

There have been innumerable requests for Duck football tickets, inquiries into the status of a child’s or grandchild’s application to the University, pleas for national title game tickets, and even once a request to scatter the remains of an Oregon fan on the field at a bowl game. “That one definitely takes the cake,” says Rodriguez, who is retiring from the UO in June after twenty-three years serving as executive director of the Alumni Association and associate vice president for alumni affairs. “I’m going to miss dealing with and meeting alums. It’s what truly makes the job interesting and rewarding.”

Plucked from the University of California at San Diego, Rodriguez arrived in Eugene in 1988 and led the effort to establish and build a dues-paying alumni association at the UO. Today more than 18,000 alumni and friends are members. Perhaps most satisfying, Rodriguez helped champion the cause to build an alumni center on campus. As he approaches retirement, the 60,000-square-foot, four-story Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford Alumni Center is preparing to open on East 13th Avenue adjacent to Matthew Knight Arena (a ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for June 10, and on June 13 an open house will take place in conjunction with commencement and Grad Fest).

His best memories are of working with graduates on behalf of the University. “There’s great job satisfaction,” Rodriguez says of his role as alumni director. “Alumni have a special love for this campus, University, and city. Our campus is still small enough at 23,000 people that there’s an interaction among students, faculty, and alumni that makes us unique.”

Which brings Rodriguez back to the request to scatter the ashes of lifelong Duck fan Bob Havercroft at a bowl game. His wife, the late Jean Havercroft, was a longtime alumni volunteer. After her husband’s death in 1994, she had successfully, and surreptitiously, honored his Duck spirit by scattering portions of his ashes on the field at the 1995 Rose Bowl and 1996 Cotton Bowl. In the weeks leading up to the 2000 Holiday Bowl, Havercroft called Rodriguez and asked for a favor. “She wanted Bob’s ashes spread on the field in San Diego,” Rodriguez explains. With the help of a Holiday Bowl official, Rodriguez got onto the field at Qualcomm Stadium moments after the game. He scattered the ashes of Bob Havercroft in the corner of the end zone where Joey Harrington ’01 had scored on the trick play pass from Keenan Howry in the game’s first quarter.

“I was just humbled that she asked me to do this for her. For me to pull it off was just special.”

As for his retirement plan, Rodriguez plans to do some golfing and volunteering, and to continue to referee high school football, which he has done for thirty-five years now. He will also take his elderly mother back to Spain to visit family. (Rodriguez spoke only Spanish until he entered kindergarten in Sunnyvale, California.) He admits that back in 1988 he didn’t intend to spend the rest of his career in Eugene.

“But after a few years I had to ask myself, ‘Is the grass greener somewhere else?’ Well, it’s been pretty green here.”

By Paul Stieber, MED ’05

Tim Clevenger ’86 has been hired to succeed Dan Rodriguez. Long involved with UO affairs, Clevenger is past president of the UO Alumni Association Board of Directors, a member of the Journalism Advancement Council for the UO School of Journalism and Communication, and vice president of the Leadership Council at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. A fuller profile will appear in the next issue of Oregon Quarterly.