Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Life Lessons Recounted in Groundbreaking Book on Latino College Presidents

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Life Lessons Recounted in Groundbreaking Book on Latino College Presidents

Article excerpt

Rubén Martínez will never forget the impact the first Chicano leader of a U.S. research institution had on him. He recalled how Tomás Rivera, former chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, approached him and his friends as they sat outside the student center drinking coffee as graduate students there in 1979- While other administrators passed them by without saying a word, Rivera took notice of them, and showed interest in their academic life.

"He recognized us as students, addressed us in our own language, and pointed us to the significance of our educational experience," said Martinez. "That experience has been a part of my professional career from the very beginning."

Today, as director of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University, Martinez, in collaboration with David León, has published a book that, for the first time, shares the stories of Latino leaders like Tomás Rivera in higher education. Their coedited book, Latino College Presidents: In Their Own Words, recounts the pathways Latino college presidents have taken to reach their level in higher education.

As part of a "Diversity in Education" series, this volume focuses on three themes: how college presidents survived the educational pipeline, and the impact of their families in achieving this; how they moved up the faculty/administration ladder, what experiences made this possible; the advice they'd give others; and what projects, programs, and initiatives they have created and implemented as presidents that reflect their experiences.

Published this past March, this oneof-a-kind book provides readers something unique - a glimpse into the lives of Latino co lege presidents through their own words and writings. The 11 presidents invited to share their stories represent different types of institutions - community colleges, four-year institufions, and research universities -and a variety in geographic location, gender, and subgroups of Latinos. Unfortunately, Latino leaders at Ivy Leagues or private higher education institutions were not included, since none seemed to exist at this time.

Among those included in this volume were: Erlinda J. Martinez, president of Santa Ana College in California; Herlinda Martinez Glasscock, president of North Lake College in Texas; Leslie Anne Navarro, president of Morton College in Illinois; Monte E. Pérez, president of Riverside Community College in California; Rodolfo Arévalo, president of Eastern Washington University in Washington; Ricardo R. Fernández, president of Lehman College of The City University of New York; William V. Flores, president of the University of Houston; Mildred Garcia, president of California State University at Fullerton; Alexander González, president of California State University at Sacramento; Ricardo Romo, president of University of Texas at San Antonio; and Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas system.

These individuals were chosen among approximately 175 Latino heads of institutions affiliated with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and from those known to the volume editors. They represent 3.8 percent of latino leaders from an estimated total of 5,000 leaders of institutions in higher education. They also were selected from a group of leaders that tend to be concentrated in two-year institutions, especially in the Southwestern states, and exist in low numbers at four-year regional institutions, and even more so at doctorate-granting schools. And while books have been written about heads of institutions of higher education, scholarship on Latino leaders is almost non-existent.

"This is the first book written by our Latino presidents. This is the first book that captures the experience of Latino presidents in their own words. As Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. (of the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University) said, 'es único"' said Martínez. "We have not been proactive over the years in capturing the intellectual biographies of the members of our intelligencia. …

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