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The Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professorship was launched in 1997 with the intention of exposing students, faculty and staff to the work of Chicano and Latino artists, activists and leaders.
Originally conceived of as the Latino Literary Symposium, the professorship was initiated to foster multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence at MSU Denver. For nearly two decades it has brought renowned Latina and Latino scholars, artists and leaders to campus to conduct classes, seminars, performances and lectures.
Over the years, the professorship has featured such luminaries as Carmen Lomas-Garza (1999), Elena Avila (2002), Richard “Cheech” Marin (2005) and David Carrasco (2008).
The professorship was named for Richard T. Castro (1946-1991), an MSU Denver alumnus and professor who was well known as an educational and civil rights activist. A Denver native, he was one of Colorado’s true champions of disenfranchised communities. At 25, Castro became one of the youngest lawmakers ever elected to the House of Representatives, a post he held for five terms. Castro led many struggles for justice, including opposition to English-only legislation. A bust commemorating him sits in the rotunda of the state capitol.
Castro was an early instructor in what would become the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at MSU Denver and an outspoken leader on the importance of education to meet the needs of a culturally diverse population.
Castro once said, “Education’s role in our society cannot be minimized…It is quite probably the most critical investment a people can make.”