• IDRA Newsletter • January 1997

Dr. Arturo Madrid received the Charles Frankel Prize presented by President Bill Clinton in a White House ceremony this month. This is the highest award bestowed by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“The arts and humanities are essential to our growth and renewal as a people,” said President Clinton about the honor. “Through these awards we commemorate the contributions of distinguished artists and scholars whose work reflects the strength and diversity of America’s cultural heritage.”

Dr. Madrid, an IDRA board member, was selected for his extraordinary contributions toward developing the intellectual resources of the Latino community and for pioneering scholarship on Chicano literary and cultural expression. The Charles Frankel Prize honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the public’s understanding of history, literature, philosophy and other humanities disciplines.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Madrid pointed specifically to the work he has done to ensure “that Latinos and other minorities are not overlooked by institutions of higher education, bringing to bear the academic and intellectual resources of the Hispanic community on American challenges and, finally, assuring that Latinos participate fully in all realms of American life particularly in its artistic, cultural and intellectual arenas.”

For more than 30 years, Dr. Madrid has been engaged in professional activities and scholarship to ensure Hispanics are involved in all institutions of U.S. society. Born in Tierra Maria in northern New Mexico, he has been a professor in the modern languages and literature department at Trinity University since 1993. He spent the nine years prior to that as founding president of the Tómas Rivera Center, a national institute for policy studies on Latino issues. He is credited with bringing the best intellectual talent to bear on the challenges facing the nation’s Hispanic population.

He holds the Norine R. and T. Frank Murshinson Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity and has taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of California at San Diego, and began his teaching career at Dartmouth College.

The NEH award commemorates Charles Frankel (1917-1979), whose life and work exemplified the integration of scholarship and public service. Other 1996 winners are Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and novelist Rita Dove, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, political philosopher and civic activist Donald Kemmis, and commentator and former press secretary to President Johnson Bill Moyers.

This is the eighth year that the Frankel Prize has been awarded. Past recipients include former CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt, African-American studies scholar John Hope Franklin, author Eudora Welty, filmmaker Ken Burns, and Librarian of Congress Emeritus Daniel J. Boorstin.

[©1997, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the January 1997 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]