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From child migrant worker to PhD, award-winning author at SCU named one of four national Professors of the Year

Washington, D.C. – Nov. 21, 2002 – They’re considered the Oscars of college teaching: Each year four college professors are tapped by The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as U.S. Professors of the Year for their dedication to teaching, commitment to students, and creative approach to education.

Today, one of those four winners is a Santa Clara University professor and award-winning author, Francisco Jimenez. Professor Jimenez grew up in migrant labor camps in the Central Valley and went on to earn degrees from Santa Clara and Columbia. He and three other professors, two from Indiana and one from Maryland, were selected from among 400 nominations.

The other winners are Dennis Jacobs, professor of chemistry, University of Notre Dame; Alicia Juarrero, professor of philosophy,Prince George’s (Md.) Community College; James Adams, professor of art, Manchester (Ind.) College.

The U.S. Professors of the Year Awards, created in 1981, are the only national honors for excellent teaching in higher education.

  “We are pleased to honor these distinguished professors who have demonstrated a passion for teaching, a dedication to student learning, and a commitment to an examination of their teaching practice,” said Carnegie Foundation President Lee S. Shulman.  “These extraordinary teachers are shaping the lives of tomorrow’s leaders and scholars everyday in their classrooms.”

Vance T. Peterson, president of CASE, said, “The Professors of the Year bring tremendous energy and passion to everything they do because of their genuine love for students, teaching, and their disciplines.”

The Carnegie Foundation performed the final judging, which awarded a $5,000 prize to each of the four national winners.  Carnegie also selected 46 state-level winners.

The Professors of the Year were honored today at a luncheon at the National Press Club.


More about Francisco Jiménez

Jimenez is the Fay Boyle Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Santa Clara University, and director of the University's Ethnic Studies Program. He has taught at SCU since 1973, and much of his teaching and writing have been framed by his experiences as the child of Mexican migrant farm workers. Jimenez received his undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University in 1966 and a Master's and Ph.D. in Latin American literature from Columbia University under a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. His three sons graduated from SCU.

Jimenez was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and attended schools in Santa Maria, Calif. He is the author of two award-winning books: The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (1997), and Breaking Through (2001). Jimenez's courses include Advanced Spanish Conversation, in which students participate in non-profit agencies that serve the Latino community, and Mexican-American Literature. Jimenez also created an outreach program, the Eastside Future Teachers Project, to encourage historically under-represented students to become teachers, providing scholarships, special mentoring, and practical experience at SCU for six new students each year.

In addition to the national honor, his most recent book was selected this week to be the single book read in schools and libraries throughout Silicon Valley in a community reading project. The San Jose Public Library Foundation and the Santa Clara County Office of Education are sponsors of the project, called Silicon Valley Reads, to identify a book that they will ask everyone in Silicon Valley to read.

Breaking Through also is the 2001 winner of the Southwest Texas State University Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award. Breaking Through is the sequel to The Circuit, another autobiographical novel by Jimenez. Breaking Through can now add the Rivera award to its long list of accolades, including selection as a Booklist Editor’s Choice, American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, a Smithsonian’s Notable Book for Children and Young Adults and a New York Public Library Book for teenagers.

His two picture books, La Mariposa, a Smithsonian Notable Book, and The Christmas Gift, an American Library Association Notable Book, also tell the story of his younger years, for younger readers.

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