Raul Fernandez, Chicano/Latino studies professor emeritus, is the 2018 recipient of UCI’s Outstanding Emeritus Award. The honor, awarded each year by the UCI Emeriti Association, recognizes special accomplishments of a retired professor.
“The Awards Committee was very impressed with many aspects of Professor Fernandez’s extensive activities as an emeritus professor,” says Jim Danziger, UCI Emeriti Association president. “Not only has he continued to contribute to the intellectual community with his written work, but he has also been a remarkable and dedicated mentor to junior faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. We received wonderful testimonials regarding his wise guidance and support of others and of his efforts to further the campus goal of inclusive excellence, and he’s remained active in leadership roles on campus. He is a valued asset of our campus.”
Fernandez completed his secondary education in Cuba and received his B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1966. He joined the faculty at UC Irvine in 1969 and completed his Ph.D. in economics at Claremont Graduate University in 1971. His work has focused on economic and cultural transactions between the U.S. and Latin America, specifically on labor and migration, the U.S.-Mexico border, Latin jazz and Cuban music, Chicano history and the thought of José Martí. He’s authored six books and edited two. A Fulbright fellow, Fernandez was curator of the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Latin Jazz: La combinación Perfecta, which opened in Washington, D.C. in 2002 and traveled to 12 U.S. cities through 2006. While he officially retired in 2011, Fernandez has continued his research and service through management of a blog critical of U.S. imperial policies, and through mentorship of undergraduates, graduate students and junior faculty. Post-retirement, he also served as chair of the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies and he is currently executive secretary of the UC-Cuba Academic Initiative, which he helped found.
“Raul Fernandez's retirement was really the start of a second academic career,” says Louis DeSipio, Chicano/Latino studies chair. In addition to serving as department chair, Fernandez also established and built the UC-Cuba Research Initiative, which has ensured collaboration between scholars in Cuba and the University of California system. The initiative also facilitates visits by senior UC administrators to Cuba to ensure scholarly communication.
He also continues to teach and mentor students, says DeSipio. In Spring 2019, Fernandez will teach a newly designed graduate seminar on Afro-Latinidades in response to student interests for course work in a newly emerging area of scholarly discourse.
“It’s hard to imagine a more deserving recipient of the Emeriti of the Year Award,” says DeSipio.