To tell the UCI tale is to share the story of the great impact of its Latinx faculty, staff and students. Their achievements have made the university an intellectual and healthcare leader and forged it into the most popular University of California campus among the state’s Latinx high school graduates. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, UCI is highlighting a few members of the campus community who embody Latinx excellence. Social sciences is proud to count the following members as part of our outstanding faculty:

Vicki Ruiz Vicki L. Ruiz

Distinguished Professor Emerita of history and Chicano/Latino studies

Noteworthy achievements include: Recipient of the National Humanities Medal; served as president of four major scholarly associations, including the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association; former dean of UCI’s School of Humanities

Quote: “When I started out, Chicano history was Chicano – emphasis on the masculine form of that word. Women were the landscape figures. They were often cast as mothers who didn’t venture far from the home. They remained in the shadows of history. Now you can’t study the history of Mexican Americans or Latinos without discussing women. And it’s about all people. Now UCI is a center for Chicano/Latino studies. It’s gratifying to me, having taught at UCI for 16 years, to see a small program that had been systemically starved of resources for decades become one of the top ethnic studies departments in the nation.” 

hector tobar Hector Tobar

Associate professor of Chicano/Latino studies and English

Noteworthy achievements include: Author of four books, two of which have won numerous awards; recipient of the Pulitzer Prize while a reporter at the Los Angeles Times; named in 2006 one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by Hispanic Business magazine; graduate of UCI’s M.F.A. program in creative writing

Quote: “I taught a class in the spring called Writing Race, and it was the most diverse class I’ve ever taught. I had students of every ethnic background. We read African American authors, Latino authors, white authors, Arab American authors and Asian authors to experience the incredible diversity of California and to get to know the students in there. I can’t overstate their incredible strength. I mean, everyone has a story of how they came to be at UCI, and usually it’s a story that involves one or more generations of striving, of people attempting to make themselves better off, more educated.”

raul fernandez Raul Fernandez

Professor emeritus of Chicano/Latino studies

Noteworthy achievements include: Founding member of Chicano/Latino studies department at UCI; former chair of the UC-Cuba Multi-Campus Research Program; former chair of Chicano/Latino studies; mentors undergraduates, graduate students and junior faculty

Quote: “Chicano/Latino studies has a small number of students, but they’re great. They win a lot of awards. Most people want to go into law, medicine, engineering or accounting. When people major in things like Chicano studies, they’re following their passion, so they’re committed and don’t have to be told to study. Sometimes they have to argue with their parents, because their parents tell them, ‘Take bio; become a doctor,’ so there’s a lot of motivation. In the end, when they graduate, they’re successful in a variety of careers. We also have really good faculty. I always tell them that they’re out of sight.”

 - UC Irvine, 


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