After a year in Corpus Christi, Texas, his parents moved to New York and he found himself in a rough-and-tumble immersion program in school. He caught on fast, but to this day, he has a slight phobia about speaking foreign languages.
Volgy, 57, earned a double major in history and political science from Michigan's Oakland University. By the time he had earned his earned his doctorate from the University of Minnesota, he had been recruited to the UA political science department.
A veteran of city politics, Volgy first ran for the Ward 6 seat more than a quarter-century ago after being recruited by the Democratic Party. He served the midtown ward, now represented by Republican Fred Ronstadt, for a decade before moving up to the mayor's office in 1987.
Volgy stepped down after one term to make an unsuccessful run to replace legendary U.S. Rep. Morris Udall, losing a three-way primary to Rep. Ed Pastor in 1991. He made a brief return to the political stage in 1998 with a challenge to Congressman Jim Kolbe, losing by 7 percentage points.
Since then, he's split his time between teaching at the UA, working with the U.S. State Department to develop fledgling democracies in the former Soviet Union, writing books about poverty and politics and running a consulting business.
Volgy credits passion for his return to the local political arena.
"I'm no longer naïve enough to believe I can alter national policies, but I think I can continue to have a significant impact on my own community," he says.