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UA facilities technician honored with State Employee of the Year award

By Eric Swedlund
Arizona Summer Wildcat
July 28, 1999
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Arizona Summer Wildcat

Senior Facilities Management staff technician Joe "Mad Dog" Maurer has no tolerance for incompetent workers.

An overachiever in his field, Maurer earned the nickname about four years ago when he began reviewing contractor's plans and inspecting work on UA construction projects.

Often, he said, the contractors weren't following the university's plans for the project as closely as they should have been.

"I had to make the contractors perform, based on the specifications," he said. "I made them do their job."

One contractor, who went over time and budget on a project, asked UA Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Joel Valdez, "Why have you turned this 'Mad Dog' loose on us?"

Since then, the name has stuck. Maurer said he has a hat with "Mad Dog" written on it, and was also given a stuffed red bulldog.

Nickname aside, Maurer said the lesson was simple: "We should always watch the contractor."

For 20 years, Maurer has spent his days as an electrician and technician working for the University of Arizona.

In May, his years of dedication and outstanding job performance were rewarded, as Maurer was named the Arizona State Employee of the Year at a luncheon in Phoenix.

"My name came up and I was blown away," Maurer said. "The award is really representative of all the people I work with."

Maurer began his career with the UA in Facilities Management as an electrician and is now a senior staff technician.

Such dedication to his job has been recognized by Facilities Management Director Al Tarcola for years, but the reward goes far beyond that.

For 17 years, the Arizona Administrators Association has given the State Employee of the Year award, and southern Arizona has never before had a candidate.

Tarcola accompanied Maurer to the luncheon and out of about 40 applicants, Maurer won.

"I have a son who I think a lot of, and I am as proud of Joe Maurer as if he were my own," he said.

Tarcola said Maurer is the first UA employee to ever receive the prestigious award.

"Joe is a very, very intelligent human being," Tarcola said. "But he also has a down-to-earth, practical way of doing things."

Maurer's interest in being an electrician began when he worked in the Navy as a reactor operator for seven years aboard a nuclear submarine. He came to the UA in 1974 to study nuclear engineering, although he didn't complete his degree.

"It is a terrific award for the university and Facilities Management," Maurer said. "It speaks of the dedication of all the people here."

Maurer plans to retire next July and said he might come back to the UA on a consulting basis, or might teach electronics or shop classes in high school.

"The award is a great way to go out," he said.