The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) established the HACU Hall of Champions to honor those who embody the mission of the Association through exemplary efforts “To Champion Hispanic Success in Higher Education.” The second inductee into the HACU Hall of Champions is Tomás A. Arciniega, Ph.D., who was honored on October 22, 2012 during HACU’s 26th Annual Conference.
As a member of the HACU Governing Board from 1994 to 2000 and again from 2003 to 2011 and past Governing Board Chair (1996-97), Arciniega helped build HACU’s membership to more than 400 colleges and universities serving the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students in 26 states and Puerto Rico. His public championship of the country’s fastest-growing school-age population has helped HACU win millions of dollars in support from the federal government and private sector for Hispanic college students and the higher education institutions that serve them.
Arciniega was born in El Paso, Texas, and attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces on a football scholarship, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in teacher education. After a brief stint as a professional baseball player in the minor leagues, he attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, earning a master's and doctorate in educational administration. He began teaching in Albuquerque for a year then served for two years in the military as an officer in the U.S. Army, returning to teaching after fulfilling his enlistment duties.
Arciniega served in the U.S. Foreign Service as a human resources advisor in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1968. He was appointed chief of party for a technical assistance project in Colombia through 1970 while working as a UNM faculty member.
On returning to El Paso, he served as a professor of educational administration at the University of Texas, El Paso from 1971 through 1973. In 1973 he was named dean of education at San Diego State University, and served in that post until 1980. He served as provost at California State University, Fresno from 1980 to 1983, and in 1983 he was named president of California State University, Bakersfield.
Arciniega was a Presidential appointee to the National Council on Education Research; Member, Board of Directors, Aspen Institute; Member, Air University Board of Directors; Member, Board of Trustees, Educational Testing Service; Founding Member, Board of Trustees, Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, Claremont Colleges; Member, Board of Directors, National Hispanic Scholarship Fund; Past President, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC); Member, Board of Directors, Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA).
Arciniega is a widely published expert on higher education administration, bilingual education and multicultural education. He has served as a technical consultant to the Ministries of Education in Honduras, Bolivia, Panama, and Guatemala, and was selected as one of the top 100 academic leaders in American higher education by Change magazine.