Hispanic academics receive National Humanities Medal
Latino academics Teofilo Ruiz and Ramon Saldivar were among nine people to receive the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in a ceremony on Monday at the White House.
“An accomplished teacher and author, Dr. Ruiz has captivated students and scholars by deepening our knowledge of medieval Spain and Europe, and exploring the role terror has played in society for centuries,” Obama said of the UCLA professor.
“I thought I wouldn’t get so emotional, but I got very emotional upon receiving the medal, although I don’t know if I really deserve it,” Ruiz confessed to Efe.
Ruiz, who took part in the Cuban Revolution, abandoned the ranks after seeing a friend killed by the new regime. After some time in prison, he went into exile, settling first in Miami and later in New York.
He earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1974 and taught at Brooklyn College, the CUNY Graduate Center, the University of Michigan, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and Princeton before joining the UCLA faculty in July 1998.
“The classes fill me up,” he responds when he is asked about the interest of U.S. students in Spanish history. “Last year, I had 480 students and this (year) 440. It’s bad that I say it, but I make them interested in it,” he added.
Ramon Saldivar, a Mexican-American, received the medal “for his bold exploration of identity along the border separating the United States and Mexico,” Obama said.
Read the full story at the Latin American Herald Tribune