The Road Less Traveled: Latino College Presidents

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By Raul Garcia Jr.
Twitter: @rgarcia_LE

It was a meeting of the minds where the idea to write the book on the current Latino College Presidents took hold. There had never been an account on the executive leadership and presidency in higher education until now with the printing of Latino College Presidents: In Their Own Words.

“It is the first book focusing on Latino college and university presidents,” said co-editor Dr. Ruben Martinez. “It consists of essays written by presidents themselves talking about their biography, their professional development and their experience as faculty and members of senior administrators.”

Dr. Ruben Martinez and Dr. David J. Leon worked together to connect and research the much needed book. It showcases thirteen college presidents and each them wrote about their experience and their path to the presidency.

“There is no single path to the presidency,” said Alexander Gonzalez, California State University – Sacramento president.

The book details the incredible achievements of these individuals, how they faced adversity. No where else is there a source of information that can serve aspiring Latinos with insight on the hard work, sacrifice and dedication that it takes to lead from the highest level in education and for some of the top college institutions.

Each president enlightens the reader with their background and upbringing. They each talk about their family life and their educational and professional path to the presidency.
University of Houston President William Flores said, “ As a Latino I often felt that I had to work harder and be better than others just to be considered as a finalist. Even so, it is not uncommon to get bypassed for positions. Do not be discouraged if this happens to you. Keep trying. Work twice as hard and achieve results that no one can question or dismiss. Think big and achieve big.”

Each college president has their nugget of encouragement and all of them are inspiring and icons in their community.
Deep South Texas native, Washington University Rodolfo Arevalo came from a family that encouraged him to work hard in school and to get ahead. He states it was his father that gave him leadership skills that he uses to this day.

“The reason I was able to advance to the presidency of a university was not because I had mentors as I developed professionally or because I had supportive colleagues who guided my steps thorough various universities. It was because of the upbringing and experiential learning that I received from my parents at a young age. It was their support and encouragement that aided my success.”

The book is very emotional as each of the college presidents opens up and lets it all out. The editors of the book also leaders in the college education world do a fantastic job in organizing and editing and surveying these outstanding individuals.

Rubén Martinez, Ph.D. is a professor at Michigan State University. He specializes in social stratification, race and ethnic relations, environmental justice, and Chicano/a and Latino/a community issues. Martinez is the director of the Julian Samora Research Institute, which focuses on Latino/a communities and issues in the Midwest.
Dr. León is Chair and Professor in the Ethnic Studies Department at California State University, Sacramento.
He is former Director of Chicano Studies and Founding Director of the Serna Center.He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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