Noriega Receives Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award
In March 2020, CSRC director Chon A. Noriega received the Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award, sponsored by the Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education Magazine. He received the award at the annual conference of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE). Below are his reflections on the award and its namesake:
“!Felicitationes! Congratulations, Chon. I am pleased that your name and mine will be linked in this important way.” . . . I received this email from Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. last November, shortly after learning that the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education had selected me for the leadership award that is named after him. How could he write this to me? I was the one who should be pleased—in fact, honored! His life had been a model for service to the community through higher education.
Alfredo grew up in the 1930s and early 1940s on the family ranch in rural South Texas. He served in the U.S. Army, becoming a second lieutenant, and began his education at Laredo Junior College, where he was president of the student government and co-editor of the college newspaper. He would later return to start his professional career as a faculty member in the English department and as assistant librarian. Alfredo went on to have a distinguished and multifaceted career as a professor, librarian, dean, vice chancellor, and college president. In becoming the founding president of El Paso Community College, he also became the first Chicano to be named president of a community college in the United States. After Alfredo retired in 1999, he served ten years as a research professor for the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University, where he also taught community college administration. Throughout his career, Alfredo made significant contributions to the larger field of higher education, serving on the board of several organizations, including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Educational Testing Service, and the American Association for Higher Education.
Alfredo’s kind words surprised me, but his humility did not. It was, indeed, quite familiar—it is the heart and soul of a community-based approach to education access. Learn, advance yourself, and then give back. I received the Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award on March 7. After a long battle with lung cancer, Alfredo passed away on March 8. We never met in person, but it is my honor to have his name now linked to mine as I go forward. ¡Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr., Presente!