Western New Mexico University’s Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, received the 2018 Premio Estrella de Aztlán – Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Texas Chapter.
Western New Mexico University also recently honored Dr. Ortego by naming the newly established campus cultural center – formerly the MEChA Building – the Felipe de Ortego y Gasca Cultural Center.
Dr. Ortego was the founding director of The University of Texas at El Paso’s Chicano Studies program and is considered the founder of Chicano literary history. Since 2007, Dr. Ortego has been the Scholar-in-Residence at Western New Mexico University, where he focuses on cultural studies, critical theory and public policy.
“Ortego was selected for his contributions toward the betterment of Chicanas/os in Texas while a Texas resident,” the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies awards committee said.
The journalist, author and professor is one of three people being recognized with this year’s award, which was presented at the 2018 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Texas Conference at Texas Lutheran University last month.
The child of a field worker in Chicago, Dr. Ortego served during World War II as a Marine then spent as an Air Force officer during the Korean Conflict and the early Vietnam Era. After majoring in comparative studies at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Ortego earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s in English from Texas Western College. He received his doctorate in English from the University of New Mexico in 1971.
In addition to being a driving force behind The University of Texas at El Paso’s Chicano Studies program, Dr. Ortego also chaired and helped found New Mexico’s first Chicano Studies Department, the Department of Chicano/a and Hemispheric Studies. Dr. Ortego is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature, having retired from Sul Ross State University in 1999.
For eight years, Dr. Ortego taught a dual-enrollment composition and rhetoric university course at Cobre High School in Bayard. As Western New Mexico University’s Scholar-in-Residence today, Dr. Ortego, in his nineties, continues influencing learners with his writing.