University remembers Sen. Bill Raggio

'Champion' of education and alum 'improved lives of all Nevadans'

2/24/2012 - By: Jane Tors
Bill Raggio at the Joe Sen. Bill Raggio was honored by University faculty and the Nevada Faculty Alliance in 2011 at the Joe Crowley Student Union.

The University of Nevada, Reno community is saddened by the death of Nevada Senator and University alumnus William "Bill" Raggio.

From Marc Johnson, University of Nevada, Reno president: "Sen. William Raggio lived a life of strong ideas and even greater ideals, which are etched everywhere on the state's landscape, most notably in higher education. He championed this University and all of higher education in the state of Nevada with a seriousness of purpose and sense of great passion that marked so much of his extraordinary life. He leaves behind the richest of all legacies: At every turn, his life's work improved the lives of all Nevadans. Our University will dearly miss Sen. Bill Raggio, who was a distinguished graduate of our institution, and a valued and trusted friend. On behalf of the entire University, Karen and I would like to express our deepest sympathies to Sen. Raggio's loving wife, Dale, his daughters Leslie and Tracy, and all of the Raggio family."

From Joe Crowley, University of Nevada, Reno president emeritus: "Bill Raggio's contributions to Nevada made the state a better place in so many ways. He was a master of the legislative process whose commitment to building consensus, to finding solutions, to working across the aisle, to managing the end game in Carson City made him a legendary figure. Higher education was a major priority for Bill, statewide. His name is on a building on campus as a way of saying thanks, but that does not begin to tell the story of how much he meant to his alma mater and to all the campuses that make up the Nevada System of Higher Education."

From Chris Cheney, dean, University of Nevada, Reno College of Education: "Bill Raggio has long been a champion for education. In the College of Education, we're very grateful for his leadership and generosity. As a senator and true statesman, he was willing to work for the common good in order to move education forward and increase the quality and rigor of education for all Nevada students. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy lives on throughout the state, and certainly here in our College's William J. Raggio Building, named in his honor."

From Cary Groth, director of intercollegiate athletics: "We will dearly miss Bill Raggio. His contributions to our region and state, especially his passion for higher education and the University of Nevada, are unmatched. He spent his life working to make the state he loved a better place, and there are very few of us who can say that they were not impacted by his efforts. Senator Raggio was a great friend to our program, and his legacy in this state will live on for many years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Raggio family."

From Chris Ault, head football coach: "This is a terrible loss. You just can't speak of Nevada without mentioning Senator Raggio. He touched the lives of so many with his enthusiasm, work ethic and compassion. In my mind, his character distinguished him among the great treasures in our state. His impact and infinite wisdom on northern Nevada will leave an indelible mark on all of us who live in the region. If greatness is defined by the proper ratio of what one contributes and what one derives from life, Bill Raggio tops the list. He was a good friend, and Kathy and I will always cherish his memory. Our prayers and thoughts are with him and his family."

Sen. Raggio received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1948. Over his career, he received several honors recognizing his contributions to higher education and the University:

  • Distinguished Service Award, awarded by the University of Nevada, Reno Alumni Association in 1997,
  • Outstanding Alumnus, awarded by the University of Nevada, Reno in 1999,
  • Jake Lawlor Award, awarded by the University of Nevada Athletic Foundation in 1999,
  • President's Medal, awarded by UNLV in 2000,
  • "Hero of Education" Award, awarded by the University of Nevada, Reno Faculty Senate and Nevada Faculty Alliance in 2011,
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, awarded by the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011.

A permanent display devoted to Sen. Raggio is located on the first floor of the University's William J. Raggio Building. The 118,000-square-foot building is home to the College of Education. It opened for classes in fall 1997 and was renamed in recognition of Sen. Raggio's significant contributions to education in 2003. Within the building is the Raggio Research Center which promotes research and programs to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.


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