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 twelfth and thirteenth inductees
into the HACU Hall of Champions are Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss, CDP, Ph.D. and J. Michael Ortiz, Ph.D., who were honored on
October 6, 2018 during HACU's 32nd Annual Conference.
One of the nation’s most revered Hispanic leaders, J. Michael Ortiz enjoyed a remarkable 12-year presidency at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, a nationally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution in the California State University (CSU) system. During his tenure, Dr. Ortiz led the university to increased graduation rates, improved student access to educational programs, and received numerous citations for academic excellence. He also enhanced the quality of student life on campus. By 2013-14, enrollment had increased to approximately 22,500 students. A champion for first-generation and underrepresented students, Ortiz worked with the CSU Chancellor’s Office to expand its black, Latino and Asian American Pacific Islander initiatives.
He also launched the university's $150 million Campaign for Cal Poly Pomona, which brought in a record $42 million challenge grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, breaking a CSU record. Under his leadership, the campaign ultimately raised over $160 million.
Formally and informally, Ortiz has been an agent of change as an administrator and mentor for thousands of students. At Cal Poly Pomona, he’s advocated for expanding access to higher education and support for students from all backgrounds, helped maintain high academic standards, and encouraged faculty research and scholarship. Ortiz has been a leader on the national level, serving on boards and committees on a variety of issues, including diversity, access to education, sustainability and economic and workforce development. On a personal level, he continues to mentor individual students.
Dr. Ortiz has earned a myriad of awards that reflect his passion in advancing opportunities for the Hispanic communities. They include the President’s Award of Excellence from HACU in recognition of outstanding service to Hispanics and higher education success; 2014 Latino Professionals Alumni Chapter Legacy Award; 2014 University of North Carolina’s Outstanding Latina/o Alumni Award; 2011 Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education Award presented by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education; 2009 Service to the Community Award presented by Hermanos Unidos; 2008 Nopal Award for leadership presented by the Raices Alumni Association; 2008 Selected by Latino Leaders magazine as one of the "Top 25 Latinos in Education"; 2007 Inaugural HENAAC Vanguard Award honoring individuals who are actively involved in programs that recruit and prepare more Hispanic professionals in the STEM fields; 2006 Inland Empire Hispanic Image "Influential Latino Award" for providing social and educational opportunities throughout the Hispanic community presented by Hispanic Lifestyle; and being recognized as one of Hispanic Business magazine's "100 Most Influential Hispanics" for 2005.
President Emeritus Ortiz was also incredibly active with HACU, serving on the Governing Board as well as co-chair of the HACU/USDA Leadership Group. He has also been a longtime member of American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE).
Dr. Ortiz’s career in higher education began in 1976 when he joined the faculty at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. By 1982, he had elevated to full professor in the Department of Special Education. His career path continued, ultimately becoming the department chair and later the Director of the Office of Extension Instruction and Professor of Language, Reading and Exceptionalities (1985-90).
His next stop was Colorado State University in Pueblo where he initially served as Dean of Continuing Education, moving on as Associate and Interim Provost. He left Pueblo in 1997 to join Fresno State, eventually serving as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (1999-2003). He was named the fifth President of Cal Poly Pomona in 2003.
David Speak, a political science professor and chair of the Academic Senate, noted that “Ortiz’s warmth and passion for the university has been his greatest strength, especially in working with faculty. It’s brought energy to his office and the campus, and it has carried him through challenging times.”
For guidelines on how to nominate someone for the HACU Hall of Champions, click here.