Emeritus Professor of Spanish Antonio Esquibel, whose service on the Board of Trustees is coming to a close, has been a witness to—and active participant in—31 years of Metro State history.
Arriving at Metro State in 1980, Esquibel was vice president for student affairs for 11 years. He then taught Spanish and Chicano studies courses for nine more years, retiring in 2000. In 2007, Gov. Bill Ritter appointed him to the Board of Trustees.
During his long association with the College, Esquibel has amassed a storehouse of institutional memory. “I saw two attempts to merge Metro State with UCD, one attempt to have AHEC take over all three schools, Metro State achieve successfully its own governing board, and the approval of master’s degree programs,” he says. He has also voted to change the College’s name, attended more than 60 Metro State graduation ceremonies, and worked directly with nine presidents and 19 vice presidents.
He shared some of his considerable experiences with the Board of Trustees at its Feb. 2 meeting, as well as in a “A Morning, with Memories: Sharing 45 Years of Impact,” a Feb. 14 panel discussion held by the Metro State History Subcommittee as part of homecoming week. Among the items that stand out particularly for Esquibel:
- The Displaced Aurarian Scholarship program, designed to provide college scholarships for students who were residents of the Auraria neighborhood and were displaced to make room for the building of the Auraria Campus. Esquibel helped develop the program, which also extends to the children and grandchildren of these residents.
- Metro State’s independent governing board, which Esquibel initially advocated for, along with then-president Paul Magelli, in the mid-1980s. The independent board was established by Gov. Bill Owens in 2002. “One of the best things that ever happened to Metro State was to be separated from the shackles of the Consortium of State Colleges of Colorado,” Esquibel said.
- The reduction in the number of schools at the College from seven to three, to save administrative costs. Also under Magelli, Esquibel was involved in abolishing four schools and consolidating them into the three that remain today. The four that were eliminated were a School of Education, a School of Math and Science, a School of Community and Human Services and a School of Engineering Technology. (The College is exploring the possibility of re-establishing a School of Education.)
On more recent changes to the institution, Esquibel said of his four years on the board, “Not since Paul Magelli’s tenure (1985-87) have I seen so many positive things happen at the College. The major reason is that you have a very good and entrepreneurial president in Stephen Jordan, supported by a very knowledgeable board in regard to business issues, and students who are willing to foot the bill.” Esquibel cited specifically the master’s degree offerings, the new Science Building, Student Success Building, and Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center, the decision to pursue Hispanic Serving Institution status, and the recent board decision to seek legislative approval to change the College’s name to Denver State University.
Esquibel’s plans include writing his memoirs and spending time with his family. He told the board that he is planning to take guitar lessons at the College as part of the MetroMeritus program where classes are free for enrollees over 60. “But in order to take a guitar class there’s a prerequisite. I have to take a music class. So some of you in the Music Department may see me around in the future.”
In addition to his service to Metro State, Esquibel has been director of the Learning Centers of the Latin American Research and Service Agency (LARASA) and of Rocky Mountain SER’s Head Start program. He also has contributed his time on numerous boards, including La Escuela Tlateloco (as chair), Denver Public Schools Hispanic Educational Advisory Council and the Colorado Minority Engineering Association. Among the many awards Esquibel has received is the Cesar Chavez Award for Outstanding Leadership, for a lifetime of contributions to the Latino community in Colorado.
Esquibel says he plans to continue to advocate for what he believes in.
“I will never give up the fight we have fought for 44 years to get more people of color into college as students, professors and administrators.”
[Read a 2007 profile on Esquibel.]
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