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Department of Ethnic Studies

Professor Matt Meier

Professor Meier is nationally and internationally known as a pioneer in Chicano history. He published over 15 books and numerous articles. His book, "The Chicanos: A History of Mexican Americans" is a classic. It has gone through several editions and has been published in Spanish.

Besides contributing to the field of Chicano history, Professor Meier was a strong supporter of and contributor to the Ethnic Studies Program. He developed and taught for many years the first Chicano history course ever given in the United States. He co-organized the Institute on Chicano History and Culture at Santa Clara - another first. He served on the Ethnic Studies Advisory Board for many years and mentored many faculty.

A Tribute to Dr. Matt Meier: Teacher, Mentor, and Friend

Black and white portrait of a person named Meier.
Dr. Matt Meier
By Francisco Jiménez

Dr. Meier, in whose honor the Ethnic Studies Program established the Matt S. Meier Research Award, had a tremendous influence in my life, both professionally and personally. As an undergraduate here at Santa Clara University, I took all of his courses on Latin American History, including the History of Mexico, which sparked an intense interest in me for Mexican history and culture, an interest that has remained with me to this day. In his courses I learned to see both Anglo-Americans and Latin Americans in a new light. His classes inspired me as well as other students to look upon Latin Americans, Anglo-Americans and Europeans with more understanding. He fostered feelings of kinship and encouraged us to eliminate prejudices, misconceptions, and hostilities rooted in ignorance. Thanks to his encouragement and faith in my ability, I went on to graduate school at Columbia University where I majored in Latin American Literature, with an emphasis on Mexican Literature and History. Upon my return to Santa Clara University after completing my doctorate and teaching for two years at Columbia University, Dr. Meier became my mentor. I looked to him for guidance, for he was an exemplary educator. He did everything with great energy and concern. His numerous scholarly publications stand as testimony to this as do his deeds. Whenever students or colleagues were in need, he was the first to offer a helping hand; whenever research materials or academic guidance was needed, he was ready to assist. Generosity and kindness were as essential to his make-up as was the inner spiritual strength that guided his conduct. It was this inner spiritual strength that I admired and respected most.

Dr. Meier’s spiritual life permitted him to weigh and savor each experience in light of distinctive and high personal standards, which he refused to compromise. Consequently, his ideals were not blown about by every wind of fashion or propaganda. When truth was distorted, he spoke out, for he believed that there is no greater cowardice than to be silent when one should speak out for the sake of truth.