[UPDATE — May 23, 2016]: see #clcc16fs photos: bit.ly/CLCC16fsAlbum

[UPDATE — May 18, 2016]: U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera to receive honorary doctorate at Fresno State Commencement

[UPDATE April 15, 2016]: CLCC keynote speaker reappointed as US Poet Laureate

Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. poet laureate and former Chicano and Latin American Studies professor and chair, will deliver the keynote address for Fresno State’s Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration on Saturday, May 21. This year’s celebration marks the 40th anniversary of the event.

Applications for Class of 2016 graduation candidates to participate in the bilingual event that caps the University commencement season at 6 pm. in the Save Mart Center (bit.ly/FS-CLCCapp).

The application fee of $35 is due by April 1 to be listed in the commemorative program.

“The timing is perfect to honor Juan Felipe during this milestone 40th anniversary,” said Dr. Victor Torres, professor in the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department, president of the Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association and Chicano/Latino Commencement coordinator.

“He was a true activist in his college days in the 70s helping break down barriers faced by Chicanos and other minorities, and then later here at Fresno State in the 90s when he was on our faculty. Now as he travels across the nation as U.S. Poet Laureate, he embodies the successes of many students from throughout the past 40 years.”

Herrera taught at Fresno State from 1990-2004 in the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department. He served as its chair for four years and played a key role in the ongoing development of Chicano Commencement during his time here, Torres said.

A native of Fowler and the son of migrant farm workers, Herrera served a two-year term as the poet laureate of California (2012-14) and is the first Latino accorded both the state and national honors.

Recently, he was announced as the 2015 Robert Kirsch Award recipient for lifetime achievement and will be honored April 4 by the Los Angeles Times.

Herrera studied at the University of California, Los Angeles and Stanford University and has a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Until his retirement in May, he taught at University of California, Riverside.

His appointment by the Library Of Congress is scheduled to end next month with the Poet Laureate Closing Event April 13 in Washington D.C.

The Chicano/Latino Commencement began in 1976 as the Chicano Commencement Celebration. It was part of a masters’ thesis establishing Fresno State’s Chicano Alumni Association by students Manuel Olgin and Tony Garduque. Both went on to careers with Fresno State and are now retired.

Co-founders of the celebration were Frances Pena-Olgin, who served as Fresno State’s executive director of University Outreach Services until her retirement in December, and the late Ernesto Martinez, professor emeritus of Chicano and Latin American Studies, who died in 2010.

The alumni group, now known as Fresno State Amigos, coordinated the event with a student committee until 1995 when it was transferred to the Chicano Studies Department and later the College of Social Science and became known as the Latino Commencement Celebration. Dr. Luz Gonzalez was coordinator until 2015, when she left for the American Council on Education Fellows Program.

This year, the event was placed under the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and is being coordinated by Torres with support from a planning committee of the Latino Faculty and Staff Association.

In honor of the 40th anniversary and the event’s traditional roots, the name has been restored to Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration, Torres said.

“We seek to invoke the origins of this great tradition that is one of, if not the biggest of its kind in the nation,” Torres said. “Returning to its original name, in combination with its current name, pays homage to not only those who gave it life as a student academic project, but also to the many who paved the way as the first Chicano graduates from Fresno State over the years.”

For students interested in participating, the application fee payment must be made online or at Cashier Services in the south lobby of the Joyal Administration Building. (The extended deadline is April 15 but students who apply after the primary April 1 deadline will not be included in the commemorative program.)

Graduation candidates are urged to review the instructions provide online at bit.ly/FS-CLCCinstructions.

For more information, contact Torres or Ambar Alvarez, LFSA vice president, at clccgrad@gmail.com.

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