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Teaching and writing from experience

Francisco Jimenez came to America at age 4. He spent his childhood in migrant labor camps in California’s Central Valley, living in tents with no electricity or running water and beginning school with no knowledge of the English language. He graduated from Santa Clara University in 1966 and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

“I learned early on that education was what gave me a sense of stability, of permanence. While we were moving from place to place, following the crops, I always yearned for a place to call home. In the absence of that, learning filled that void. Whatever I learned in school was mine to have and to hold and no matter how many times we moved, that went with me.”

In 2002, Jimenez was named one of the U.S. Professors of the Year by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the only national honor for teaching excellence in higher education. He has taught at SCU for more than 30 years, in the departments of modern languages and literature, ethnic studies, and the humanities.

“One of the most important issues facing our society is what I call ‘multicultural literacy.’ That is the need for all of us to better understand the experiences of the African-Americans and other immigrant groups who have contributed greatly to the development of our society and nation. My feeling is that it's important for us to live in a society that is going to be harmonious in that we need to learn about each others' contributions because the contributions that each group has made to our society is part of the American society as a whole. I feel that if we are to understand who we are as a nation and the essence of who we are as a community then we need to learn about the different experiences that each group has made to our society. By doing so we have learned more about ourselves and our role in society.”

Jimenez is also an award-winning author; his collections of autobiographical short stories, The Circuit and Breaking Through, received numerous literary awards. His next book, Reaching Out, will be published in August 2008.

 

Quotes from an interview with The Santa Clara student newspaper, Nov. 20, 2002.

Francisco Jimenez, lecturer in art and art history, 2002 Professor of the Year

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