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Former college president remembered for legacy of leadership

Mandy Heil
Director of Communications and Marketing
Arizona Western College
(928) 314-9594

Yuma, AZ (August 27, 2020) – The Arizona Western College community is saddened by the loss of former AWC President Dr.James “Jim” Carruthers. He passed away on July 22, at the age of 79.

His tenure as president left a lasting impact on generations of local students, most notably through an agreement he signed with former Northern Arizona University President Eugene Hughes to create NAU-Yuma in 1988. Carruthers was instrumental in bringing four-year and graduate degree opportunities to the Southwestern Arizona border region.

This partnership with NAU, along with future partnerships involving the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and local Yuma school districts, would later evolve into a K-20 consortium, which provided students with the option to go from kindergarten to a doctoral program without ever leaving Yuma. Today, the Yuma campus is known as a University Learning Center due to these robust partnerships forged by Carruthers and his colleagues.

In addition to serving as the president of the college from 1984 to 1997, he also held several other leadership roles during his overall 28 years working at AWC.

Carruthers first began his affiliation with AWC in 1969 when he was hired as the Director of Financial Aid under the presidency of Dr. George Hall. He went on to serve as Director of Housing and Student Activities, Assistant Dean of Students, and Dean of Students. During his time at the college, he also served as an assistant coach on Ray Butcher’s 1972 Matador national championship football team.

After his 13-year presidency, Carruthers went on to serve as a Republican Representative to the Arizona State House of Representatives from 1997 to 2004.

In 2009, a research and education building was dedicated to Carruthers for his support in adding NAU as one of the recipients of funding from 2003 legislation for university research infrastructure projects. The Dr. James R. Carruthers Research and Education building is located on the AWC Yuma Campus.

To honor his memory, his family has established a scholarship fund for aspiring educators through the AWC Foundation. The Jim Carruthers Memorial Scholarship will support students in Yuma and La Paz County seeking to serve as educators of students from pre-K through 12th grade. To donate, visit or make checks payable to AWC Foundation, PO Box 929, Yuma, AZ 85366. Be sure to list the name of the scholarship on the memo line.

To learn more about the AWC Foundation and how to support AWC students and programs, please contact the AWC Foundation at or visit


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