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Robert Shelton Resigns As Head Of Fiesta Bowl

Robert Shelton
Photo via @FiestaBowl
Dr. Robert Shelton shows off Arizona's "bid box" after the announcement that Glendale was chosen to host the 2016 college football national championship game.

Robert Shelton, who helped turn around the reputation of the troubled Fiesta Bowl, has resigned as its executive director. He is leaving to head up a Tucson-based foundation.

Shelton left his post as University of Arizona's president in 2011 to lead the Fiesta Bowl, which was reeling from a scandal involving illegal campaign contributions. Tuesday, he announced his resignation.

Shelton talked with the Fiesta Bowl board after this year's games and said they mutually agreed he had met his goals. He helped to restore the organization's integrity, keep it in the Bowl Championship Series system and put into place new rules and leaders.

"And, I think maybe to the surprise of some, we won the privilege to host the second national championship game in January 2016. So we really went through those goals and went, check, check, check, check, check," Shelton said.

Shelton's new role is as president of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, which said it was the first foundation in the U.S. dedicated to funding scientific research. It will be a return to roots for Shelton. He was originally a physicist.

Shelton said RCSA has joined with five other large philanthropic foundations to encourage basic scientific research.

"For a lot of reasons, the federal government has pulled way back on funding basic research," Shelton said. "The private sector used to have great labs like Bell Labs, Exxon had a great facility. Those laboratories that engaged in basic research have really, due to a lot of understandable reasons, pulled way back on that."

Shelton said while research that aims to solve a specific problem or come up with a theory is valuable, the basic research his group wants to encourage is an important first step in scientific development.

Nick Blumberg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2014.