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Dear Latina/o Studies Community,
It with great sadness that we write to tell you that our dear friend and colleague, Prof. Jorge Chapa, passed away Monday night. We in the Department of Latina/Latino Studies (LLS) are still very much in shock. Jorge was a great presence in the department. His jovial demeanor, collegiality, and wonderful intellect were a great source of inspiration.
Funeral services for Jorge will be this Friday October 23th from 4:00-8:00pm at Sunset Funeral Home at 710 N. Neil Street in Champaign. The first two hours will be to pay condolences to the family and visit, with the actual service/speaking part of the program beginning at 6:00pm. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial gifts be made in his name to the University of Illinois Foundation at 1305 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801. The funds will be used to establish the Jorge Chapa Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Jorge joined the University of Illinois in the fall of 2006. He initially served as Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society. More recently, he held appointments in LLS and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA). Prior to coming to Illinois, Jorge was Professor and founding Director of Latino Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. He started his career as a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
Jorge received a PhD from the prestigious Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. He was a pioneer in the field of Latino/a demography and also had a strong policy orientation. His specific teaching and research interests included diversifying higher education, Latina/os in the Midwest, census data and procedures, racial disparities in health, demographic change and voting rights, and the policy implications of demographic change. Much of Jorge’s research and policy work was driven by a desire to make positive change in the world. While at the University of Texas he, along with other professors and legislators, formulated the Top Ten Percent Plan, which had significantly increased the enrollments of underrepresented minorities in Texas. More recently, Jorge was working with the Illinois Board of Higher Education to assess and improve their tracking of racial and ethnic minority undergraduate and graduate students in the state’s colleges and universities. For Latina/o Studies, he was in the process of starting a public engagement project that would make it possible for more Latina/o students to transfer from Parkland College to the University of Illinois.
Our deepest condolences go out to Jorge’s wife Belinda, his sons Juan and Roberto, and his family. His absence has left a deep void in our department. He will be greatly missed but his legacy will continue.
Department of Latina/Latino Studies