Skip to main content

Candelaria named associate dean

August 03, 2007

Cordelia Chávez Candelaria, widely acclaimed for her scholarly and pioneering work promoting understanding and appreciation of the rich diversity of American society, has been named associate dean for strategic initiatives in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU.

A 2006 Regents’ Professor of English and Chicana/Chicano Studies, and most recently vice provost of academic affairs at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, Candelaria will provide expertise in the implementation of college initiatives designed to transcend academic disciplines. Additionally, she will oversee efforts to provide a diverse college environment for students.

“Dr. Candelaria’s unique background, scholarship and leadership at ASU will be a valuable asset to our foci on reinventing what a liberal arts education means in the 21st century and in creating a challenging yet nurturing academic environment that contributes to the retention, success and graduation of our students,” says Quentin Wheeler, ASU vice president and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, ASU’s largest and most diverse college. Liberal Arts and Sciences encompasses 30 schools, departments and programs; 29 research centers and institutes; more than 13,000 undergraduate students; nearly 2,700 graduate students; and 725 tenured/tenure track faculty.

Candelaria began her career at ASU in 1991, when she joined the university as an English professor and researcher for the Hispanic Research Center. She went on to chair the former Department of Chicana/Chicano Studies from 2000-2005, a position where she honed her administrative knowledge for creating new academic enterprises, developing curriculum and recruiting faculty.

As a researcher and author, her scholarly work has helped redefine the mainstream of American literary and cultural studies. Candelaria has published more than 200 titles, including 15 books and monographs, as well as numerous book chapters, essays, reviews, poems and other writings. She is the author of “Chicano Poetry, A Critical Introduction,” published in 1986, which was the first comprehensive study of Mexican-American poets. One of Candelaria’s books – “Seeking the Perfect Game: Baseball in American Literature” – is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s library named for former Yale University president and baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giammatti. She also co-edited the first women’s studies journal focusing on Chicanas and the first “Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture,” a two-volume set published in 2004.

“Dr. Candelaria brings to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences a unique combination of academic skills and experience; expertise we will count on as we seek synergy from our richly diverse faculty. Just as our transdisciplinary schools are challenging assumptions about discovery and problem solving, Cordelia will help us connect the dots to create bold new linkages across and within the humanities and the social and natural sciences,” Wheeler says.

“I’m honored to be asked to serve my home college in advancing strategic initiatives to reinforce a vibrant college culture that applies the many benefits of diversity to transdisciplinary teaching and research activities,” Candelaria says. “Such pluralistic approaches combine the latest creative and substantive discoveries with the profound lessons of history to inspire future generations.”

Among her many honors are: 2005 Outstanding Latina Cultural Award in Literary Arts and Publications from the American Association of Higher Education; 1996 Fulbright Scholar in American Literature to the Universidad Católica de Lima, Peru; 1997 Inaugural ASU Visiting Professor at Richmond College in London; voted 2001 Scholar of the Year by the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies; and in 1991, she was the third recipient of The Americas Award previously awarded to Carlos Fuentes and U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye.

Elizabeth D. Capaldi, ASU’s executive vice president and university provost, notes: “Dr. Candelaria’s accomplishments are well known, inside the university community, throughout Arizona and the country. She is a superb scholar and a natural leader who has contributed greatly to ASU.

“Her community activism epitomizes ASU’s vision of diffusing boundaries between the university and the communities it serves, while her research and scholarly work is of great importance in a core area of the humanities,” Capaldi says.

In the 1970s, while employed as a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Candelaria initiated the inclusion of women and African-Americans in the NEH research database. In the 1980s, she helped establish the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race in America at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Regents’ Professor Candelaria describes her goal as a teacher “is to help students better understand the totality of their cultural place in society in order to better themselves, strengthen their communities, and, thereby, help transform the planet.”

Most recently at ASU, Candelaria was tapped to oversee academic affairs at the university’s Downtown Phoenix campus, which opened last year.

Says Mernoy Harrison, vice president and executive vice provost of the downtown campus: “As a new campus, we were facing unique challenges and Dr. Candelaria possessed a passion and energy that allowed us to have a successful first year.”