Ellen Riojas Clark

DECEMBER 13, 2023 — The University of Texas at San Antonio has honored professor emerita and respected scholar Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D. with the creation of The Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies. The endowed chair, established by the College of Education and Human Development and the Riojas Clark family, is the first chair in the United States in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies named for a Latina scholar.

The Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D. Endowed Chair will recognize Clark’s outstanding scholarship and teaching as well as her commitment to the educational needs of traditionally underserved populations.

"I am deeply honored by this recognition. My journey at UTSA has been filled with endeavors to uplift my community, to advocate for bicultural and bilingual education and to foster an environment where every student feels valued and empowered,” expressed Clark. “This endowed chair, beyond being a personal milestone, will serve as encouragement for Latino scholars everywhere, reminding them that their contributions are invaluable and that the future is indeed bright."

Notable community leaders participating in the announcement of the new endowed chair included First Lady of San Antonio Erika Prosper; San Antonio’s first Latina Councilwoman, María Antonietta Berriozábal; world-renowned writer, speaker, storyteller and poet Carmen Tafolla and Latino businessman, artist and author Lionel Sosa.

“It is a great honor for UTSA to be able to recognize Dr. Clark’s significant contributions to bicultural-bilingual studies and her immense impact on creating advancement opportunities in higher education,” Karl Miller-Lugo, UTSA vice president for advancement and alumni engagement. “This is yet another testament to the critical role our community plays in advancing the university’s mission as a Hispanic Serving Institution.”

clark-rojas-2_680-2.pngClark has remained an integral part of the university community for over four decades. She graduated from UTSA with her master’s degree in 1974, was named a Title VII Coordinator for the university in 1978, then became a professor and spent the next 42 years advancing bicultural-bilingual studies and Latino education. At the same time, she has advocated for equity and social justice through various efforts.

"The net effect of Dr. Riojas Clark's contributions to UTSA and the San Antonio community are immeasurable when one looks at her influence on education, art, literature and culture. By establishing this chair in her name, we celebrate both her incomparable legacy and the vibrant and influential role she has played for decades in elevating the voice of San Antonio’s Hispanic community and shaping the city’s cultural identity,” said Mario Torres, dean of the UTSA College of Education and Human Development. “This endowed chair is a tribute to her determination, dedication, and tremendous influence she's had on countless lives."

Over her 42-year tenure at the university, Clark mentored countless students, colleagues, and faculty. She is known for guiding young leaders as a faculty advisor for student organizations such as the Bilingual Education Student Organization and MEChA at UTSA. Many students credit Clark with encouraging them to pursue their academic goals and grow an understanding of their own identities, as well as think critically about their own impact on their surrounding communities.

Clark has been heavily involved with media productions such as the groundbreaking animated PBS children’s’ series, “Maya & Miguel,” where she served as the content director. She also produced the documentary series, “Latino Artist Speaks: Exploring Who I Am.”

Since retirement, Clark has primarily focused her work in the cultural studies arena, which includes projects with rebozos, huipiles, pan dulce and calaveras.

"Throughout her distinguished career at UTSA, Dr. Clark has epitomized excellence in scholarship, mentorship, and advocacy. The creation of The Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D. Endowed Chair reinforces UTSA's commitment to voices that champion access for all in higher education,” said Heather Shipley, UTSA’s interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We're incredibly proud to honor Dr. Clark in this significant manner and to emphasize the vital role that women and the Hispanic community play in higher education."

An endowed chair position is one of the highest honors a university can bestow on a faculty member.

“The addition of endowed chairs is particularly important to UTSA’s continued advancement as a Tier One research university, as these positions are critical for recruiting and retaining high-caliber faculty who are dedicated to scholarship, teaching and service to the community,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “The Clark chair is a wonderful example of this and a tribute to Dr. Clark’s impact to the Academy.”