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 Rubén Hinojosa, who were honored on October 8, 2016 during HACU's 30th Annual Conference.
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) represents the 15th Congressional District of Texas. Elected in 1996, Congressman Hinojosa is serving his tenth term. The 15th Congressional District stretches from the Rio Grande Valley to historic Guadalupe County, southeast of San Antonio. That region is rural; however, Hidalgo County is one of the fastest growing metropolitan statistical areas in the country.
In Congress, Rubén Hinojosa is regarded as a champion for the disadvantaged and has distinguished himself as a strong advocate for education, healthcare, housing and economic development. In September 2014, Congressman Hinojosa was honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation with the prestigious Hispanic Heritage Award for his long-standing commitment to strengthening STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) education pipeline for Latinas and Latinos through the HESTEC initiative from 2001 to 2016. His primary goal in Congress has been to reduce the chronic unemployment rate in regions of the district and was instrumental in reducing the rate from 22% in 1997 to record lows of 6 % in 2007. He accomplished this improvement by focusing on developing a highly educated, well-trained workforce and creating new job opportunities. He also worked to modernize the local infrastructure, including roads and highways, such as helping to create the Interstate 69 Expressway, improving airports in McAllen, Edinburg, and Weslaco, and developing two international bridges – Anzalduas International Bridge and Donna/Rio Bravo International Bridge.
Congressman Hinojosa currently serves on two House committees: the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Financial Services. He also serves as the Ranking member for the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. Moreover, he was elected by acclamation in November of 2012 as the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) for 2013-2015 and is currently the Co-Chairman of the Education Task Force for the CHC.
As a senior member on the Education and the Workforce Committee, Congressman Hinojosa is widely recognized as a champion for investing in human capital through education. On March 30, 2010, Congressman Hinojosa joined President Barack Obama for the signing of H.R.4872: Reconciliation Act of 2010. Better known as the Health Care and Education Reform Act, this legislation represents the single largest increase in student financial aid since the GI Bill was signed in 1944. This bill invests $2.55 billion, over 10 years, in historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other Minority Serving Institutions.
Congressman Hinojosa was elected by his colleagues to become the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness in 2007. Since that time Congressman Hinojosa has championed many bills which have become law, including the 2015 reauthorization of the "Workforce Opportunity and Investment Act" that works to train our workforce for 21st Century jobs. Congressman Hinojosa helped guide into law the historic College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. Congressman Hinojosa played an instrumental role in successfully ushering through Congress the first reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 10 years, which was signed into law as The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.
His successful initiatives include a landmark $510 million investment in minority serving institutions and a program to support graduate degree attainment at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). In 2007, Hinojosa was presented with the American Society for Public Service award honoring his legislative efforts which increased college students’ interest to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math to a record high.
On the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Hinojosa is widely recognized as a leader on issues affecting the underserved, from banking to housing. He and Congresswoman Judy Biggert co-founded the House Financial Literacy and Economic Education Caucus in 2004, which currently numbers 87 members from both sides of the aisle. He is also Co-Chair of the Congressional Rural Housing Caucus.
Congressman Hinojosa has received numerous awards and recognitions including the naming of two new elementary schools in his honor, the Rubén Hinojosa Highway and the Industrial Park in the Delta Region, and a Regents Endowment Professorship in perpetuity at The University of Texas in Austin, all bearing his name. Congressman Hinojosa is also the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Hispanic Heritage Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation for his unflagging support of STEM field college education and for creating the HESTEC initiative at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (formerly U.T. Pan American) from 2001 to 2016. The Hispanic Heritage Awards were established by The White House in 1987 to commemorate the creation of Hispanic Heritage Month in America. The Hispanic Heritage Awards are considered among the "highest honor for Latinos by Latinos" and recognize notable Latinos who have made a positive impact on America, and the world. Congressman Hinojosa is also the recipient of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) award for Lifetime Achievement, Excellence in Government.
Prior to his 1996 congressional election, Congressman Hinojosa served twenty years as President and Chief Financial Officer of a family-owned food processing company, H&H Foods, for which he received a national award. He earned a Bachelor in Business Administration and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Texas in Austin and in Edinburg, respectively. He is married to Martha Lopez Hinojosa and has one son, Ruben Jr., and four daughters Laura, Iliana, Kaitlin and Karén.
For guidelines on how to nominate someone for the HACU Hall of Champions, click here.