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 Max Castillo, Ed.D.
2016 Inductee
HACU Hall of Champions

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 eighth and ninth inductees into the HACU Hall of Champions are Max Castillo, Ed.D. and The Honorable Ruben Hinojosa, who were honored on October 8, 2016 during HACU's 30th Annual Conference.

During his tenure as the president of the University of Houston-Downtown, Max Castillo provided dynamic leadership for this unique, thriving, public, liberal arts university with a passion for providing access and opportunity to each generation. President Castillo served for 17 years and his long tenure provided the foundation for this university to grow as it responds to the needs of its city. Under President Castillo’s leadership, UHD expanded its campus from a single building, to a campus of five state-of-the-art buildings located along the Buffalo Bayou.​​​​​

President Castillo holds a B.A. and an M.A. degree from St. Mary's University in San Antonio and a doctorate from the University of Houston. He served as president of San Antonio College for ten years until 1992, when he assumed leadership of UH-Downtown.

During his tenure at UHD, President Castillo positioned the institution as part of the economic, social and civic well-being of the metropolitan area. Since 1993 he: 

  • Corrected a severe shortage of space through construction of four new buildings, including the Academic Building and Jesse H. Jones Student Life Center (1997); the Commerce Street Building (2004) and the Shea Street Building (2007)—home to UHD’s College of Business. In addition, he secured funding from the Houston Endowment and the City of Houston to renovate the historic Willow Street Pump Station, just a short distance from Allen’s Landing – the birthplace of the country’s fourth largest city. This historic building now serves as an attractive option for community meeting and exhibition space.
  • Opened the doors to the development of master’s programs in criminal justice, teaching, professional writing and security management by succeeding in lifting a statutory prohibition on graduate programs at the university.
  • Eased the seamless transition into UHD from two-year colleges through articulation and joint admissions agreements with local community college systems, increasing transfer student enrollment to UHD by more than 33%.
  • Extended educational access to UH-Downtown by adding the Weekend College, expanding on-line and off-campus course offerings, and creating the Urban Teacher Education program, the College of Public Service, and the University College Learners Community for first-generation-in-college students.
  • Expanded pre-college preparatory programs and corporate/community collaborations; relationships with local school districts; and implemented matching scholarship funds to aid UH-Downtown students with financial needs.
  • Advanced the university's corporate, foundation and federal funding support for academic programs such as the Scholars Academy in the College of Sciences and Technology, increasing the university's endowment by 83% in the past ten years and positioning the university for future growth and greater financial solvency.
  • Established a center for transfer students.

His Professional Involvement included:

  • Leadership positions on the Commission on Minorities in Higher Education of the American Council on Education, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Served on the board of the American Council on Education (ACE), and the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP); the Texas Campus Compact.
  • Serves on the board of the Intercultural Development and Research Association (IDRA) and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Foundation.
  • Forged partnerships in the international arena, at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Tamaulipas in Tampico, Mexico, and with the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara; Taiwan, the United Kingdom and established the International Young Sounds of Houston, Jazz Program between UHD and the Universite De Bordeaux III, in Bordeaux, France.
  • Served as the Chairman of the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC) in Texas, as President of the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities (ATCU), on the boards of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE), the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and remains an active member in most of the organizations.

His Civic Involvement includes: 

The Salvation Army, Acres Home Citizens Chamber of Commerce, Central Houston, Inc., Houston Zoological Society, Project GRAD and a graduate of the Center for Houston’s future.

Honors and Awards: 

  • Featured in Hispanic Magazine March 2005
  • Recognized by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County with the "La Familia," award in Spring 2003
  • Honored by the U.S. Army Medical Command for significant accomplishments in education in 2003
  • Received Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Houston College of Education in 1991
  • Received Meritorious Service Award from the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education in 1990
  • Was recognized in 1987 as one of the nation's top influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine
  • Honored with the Angel Award for creating scholarship opportunities by the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Consulate General of Mexico, and the Consejo Empresarial Mexicano in Houston.
  • He holds the rank of University Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University Houston.


  • Since his retirement, Dr. Castillo studied culinary arts at the On Rue Tatin Culinary School in Paris, France, receiving the Prestigious Apron Award as a Sous Chef.
  • He continues to enjoy dabbling in the culinary arts and traveling with his wife Dr. Rosario, also a higher education leader.

For guidelines on how to nominate someone for the HACU Hall of Champions, click here.