University Outreach and Engagement Senior Fellow
Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
Senior Research Associate, Institute for Children, Youth, and Families
Francisco Villarruel is a University Outreach and Engagement Fellow and a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University. He is also a Senior Research Associate with the Institute for Children, Youth, and Families and JSRI. Dr. Villarruel received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Child and Family Studies (1990).
He has held numerous leadership positions in professional societies (e.g., National Council on Family Relations, Society for Child Development, Michigan Evaluation Association, and Michigan Council on Family Relations). He is also the chair of the National Hispanic Education Alliance (NAHE).
Dr. Villarruel has received numerous awards and distinctions during his career, including induction to the Phi Alpha Kappa Society, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Fellowship, an MSU-Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellowship, the HACU-ETS Policy Fellowship, and the 1996 MSU Teacher-Scholar Award for dedication and skill in teaching and scholarly promise.
Dionicio (Dennis) Valdes
Dionicio (Dennis) Valdes teaches history at Michigan State University. He is the author of Barrios Nortenos: St. Paul and Midwestern Mexican Communities in the Twentieth Century and Al Norte: Agricultural Workers in the Great Lakes Region, 1917-1970.
Dr. Valdes is one of the foremost historians of Chicano workers in the United States. Concentrating on the American Midwest, he has published extensively on issues of wage labor, land and exploitation.
Israel Cuellar, JSRI's Director from 2001-2004, was considered a pioneer in the field of Hispanics and mental health. He received his Ph.D. in Community Psychology from the University of Texas in Austin, as well as a Master's in Clinical Psychology and a B.A. in Psychology at North Texas State University. Dr. Cuellar spent nearly twenty years in the practice of psychology in various capacities prior to his academic career, and he pioneered a culturally sensitive treatment unit for Hispanics at the San Antonio State Hospital. The foci of his research and publications included multicultural mental health diagnosis and treatment, acculturation and mental health, and health disparities in minority populations. Dr. Cuellar passed away in 2008.
René Hinojosa, a professor in MSU's School of Planning, Design, and Construction, became the Julian Samora Research Institute's Interim Director in August 1999.
He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering and earned his Master's in Civil Engineering and Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Washington, Seattle. Before joining Michigan State University he worked as an engineer for several consulting firms in the Pacific Northwest. His areas of expertise include urban and regional analysis, evaluation in planning, quantitative methods, models of urban and regional analysis, transportation planning, regional economic studies, and urbanization and housing in developing countries.
Jorge Chapa was the Interim Director of JSRI and Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology during the 1998-99 academic year. Dr. Chapa left MSU to become the founding Director of Latino Studies at Indiana University, and is currently Director of the Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Dr. Chapa has focused his research on alternatives to increase the successful participation of Latinos in higher education. To that end he, with several faculty and legislators, helped formulate the Texas Top Ten Percent Plan, whereby students in the top ten percent of each high school's graduating class were guaranteed admission to one of the state's selective public universities. His move to Indiana University to help start a Latino Studies program there reflects the conviction, based on his research and experience as a student, a professor, and an administrator, that one of the best ways to increase the successful participation of Latinos in higher education is to offer courses where Latinos, along with all other students, can study, learn, and do research on Latino history, culture, and community and policy issues.
Refugio Rochín, the Julian Samora Research Institute's Permanent Director from 1994-1998, continued his legacy by becoming the first Director of the Smithsonian Institute's Center for Latino Initiatives in Washington, DC. At MSU he was Professor of Agricultural Economics and Sociology and at the University of California, Davis, he was Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics and Chicano Studies. His research interests include immigration/migration issues, farmworkers, and rural populations. Dr. Rochín received his M.A. in Communication and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University.
Joseph Spielberg Benitez
Joseph Spielberg Benitez, who was instrumental in the development of JSRI and served as one of its first senior faculty associates, was appointed Acting Director of the Julian Samora Research Institute in 1993.
Dr. Benitez retired as professor of Anthropology at Michigan State University and has published extensively on economic anthropology issues and on the social organization of Mexican American communities. He served as Chairman of the Governor's Agricultural Labor Commission and was a recipient of Fulbright-Hays Lecture/Research Fellowships to the University of Costa Rica and the University of Cusco in Peru. His field work was conducted in peasant and urban communities throughout Mexico and Guatemala.
Richard Navarro was an associate professor of Education and Anthropology and Director of JSRI from 1989-1993. Dr. Navarro was also Interim Co-Director of the Mexico-United States Consortium for Academic Cooperation and chaired the Board of Directors of the Midwest Consortium for Latino Research. He holds a Ph.D. in International Development Education and an M.A. in Anthropology from Stanford University. He earned a Master's degree in Educational Policy and Planning from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Humanities from the New College of California. Dr. Navarro coordinated a teacher education program and a project to internationalize the undergraduate curriculum. His research focuses on educational equity and policy issues. He has served as a consultant in Mexico, China, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, and the Republic of Maldives.