Thursday, May 30, 2024

UTSA names endowed chair after distinguished Latina scholar Ellen Riojas Clark

UTSA names endowed chair after distinguished Latina scholar Ellen Riojas Clark

President Taylor Eighmy and professor emerita and respected scholar 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."

“This endowed chair is a tribute to her determination, dedication and tremendous influence she’s had on countless lives.”

Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D. speaks at a podium in the San Antonio City Council chambers.

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 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."

Elizabeth Rodriguez painted this portrait of Clark, who has been a mentor to countless young leaders during her 42-year tenure at UTSA.

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."

A gift of any size will honor Ellen Riojas Clark and amplify the impact of the endowment. To support The Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, visit

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.”

Jennilee Garza

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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.