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Ed Pastor receives ASU's University Medal of Excellence

Michael Crow and Ed Pastor
December 15, 2014

United States Representative Ed Pastor received the University Medal of Excellence, considered one of Arizona State University’s most prestigious honors, from President Michael Crow at the fall undergraduate commencement today at Wells Fargo Arena.

The medal was established in 2006 by Crow to honor innovative leaders who have worked to advance awareness and action on issues that affect the well-being and positive development of their communities, and whose leadership has helped ASU in its effort to define excellence and inclusion and serves as a model to others for positive community impact. It’s a description that fits Pastor well, according to Crow.

“Arizona State University is proud to present Rep. Pastor with the University Medal of Excellence in recognition of his dedicated leadership, the scope and meaningful impact of his life’s work, and his committed service to strengthening our nation, the state of Arizona and ASU,” Crow said.

Having learned firsthand the power of education to change lives and societies, Pastor has advocated over his 23 years in Congress and 39 years in public service tirelessly in support of educational opportunity nationally and in the state of Arizona. With his assistance, ASU’s research budget increased from $145 million in 2003 to $405 million in 2013. Further, he helped give ASU, one of the top Hispanic-friendly universities in the nation, a national voice as a university with a focus on Hispanic students. He spoke similarly on behalf of students and children who are Navajo in heritage. With his help, the ASU Indian Legal Program was established in the Sandra Day O’ Connor College of Law.

His efforts have fostered continual financial assistance programs like Pell grants, work-study opportunities and federally subsidized loans that are critical in access to higher education for many students, especially for underserved and underrepresented groups.

Civically, he has focused similar efforts for underrepresented groups, cultural preservation and sustainable living. A champion of energy research at the Southwest Center of Environmental Research, he encouraged support from the Environmental Protection Agency. Pastor also secured millions of dollars in funding for the Central Phoenix/East Valley light rail project, which interlinks the ASU Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses while reducing the cities’ carbon footprint.

Born in 1943 in the small mining community of Claypool, Arizona, Pastor is the son of a miner and the oldest of three children. He was the first in his family to attend and graduate from college.

Pastor graduated from ASU in the early 1960s with a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry and started his career as an educator at Phoenix’s North High. His career transitioned when he took a job with Guadalupe Organization, Inc., a community-based nonprofit. His work there with students, families and seniors motivated his enrollment in what is now the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, where he earned his juris doctorate degree in 1974. That same year, he joined the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, where he served three terms before resigning in 1991 to run for the Congressional seat vacated by the late Mo Udall. His subsequent victory made him the first elected Hispanic member of Congress from Arizona, and he became the senior member of the state’s delegation. He also became a powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee and a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, serving as chair for his 1995 to 1996 term.

Pastor will retire from his post on Jan. 3, 2015, the end of his current term.

For more information on ASU’s fall 2014 commencement and convocation ceremonies, visit