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Dr. Steven R. Gonzales and Dr. Alfredo de los Santos, Jr. (posthumously) to receive the 2023 Diverse Champions Award

: Ralph Newell
Phone: 703.385.2419
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Steven R. Gonzales and Dr. Alfredo de los Santos, Jr. (posthumously) to receive the 2023 Diverse Champions Award 

FAIRFAX, Va. — Diverse: Issues In Higher Education is pleased to announce that Dr. Steven R. Gonzales and Dr. Alfredo de los Santos, Jr., (posthumously) will be co-recipients of this year’s Diverse Champions Award.

Gonzales became chancellor of the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) on Sept. 27, 2022. The district is one of the largest community college systems in the nation, comprising 10 colleges that serve nearly 100,000 students combined with 8,000 faculty and staff members. Before serving two years as the interim chancellor, Gonzales led as the eighth president of GateWay Community College, an MCCCD institution of more than 10,000 across four locations and an extended site. He also served as the acting associate vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer for the Pinal County Community College District that operates as Central Arizona College, a multi-campus college serving more than 15,000 students and employing 350 faculty and staff. Gonzales earned his doctorate in educational administration from the top-ranked community college leadership program at the University of Texas at Austin.

De los Santos has been described as a pioneer and visionary who helped shape the contemporary community college as we know it today. He has been lauded by peers and leaders across numerous higher education systems for his congenial leadership style and unyielding commitment to helping underrepresented minorities succeed. De los Santos was the founding president of El Paso Community College in Texas, and the first Chicano to be named president of a community college in the country. He served in the role from 1971 to 1976. He worked as vice chancellor for student and educational development at Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona from 1978 through 1999. He later served as a research professor at Arizona State University from 2000 to 2011. De los Santos was founder and member-at-large of the Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center at the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education. He was a founding board member of the American Association of Hispanics in Education and served on many other boards throughout his illustrious career, including the American Council on Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the College Board.

About this Award:

The Diverse Champions Award recognizes higher education leaders who have shown unwavering commitment to equal opportunity and access for all, particularly at the community college level. It was created by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2012 upon the retirement of the inaugural Diverse Champions Award winner, Dr. John E. Roueche, as director of the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at the University of Texas at Austin. Of the more than 500 CCLP graduates produced during his 40-plus year tenure at CCLP, more than 60 percent are women and people of color.

The award is given to individuals who have made similarly extraordinary contributions to the world of higher education. Learn more about past winners here; including the 2022 recipient of the award, Dr. Eboni Zamani-Gallaher.

This year’s Diverse Champions Award will be presented to Gonzales and posthumously to De los Santos’ son, Dr. Gerardo de los Santos, during the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) annual meeting, held April 1-4, 2023, in Denver, Colorado.


The March 30, 2023, edition of Diverse will contain a tribute to both recipients.


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