AAHHE Mildred García Founders' Award

The AAHHE Mildred García Founders’ Award is given in the spirit of the extraordinary leadership, stewardship, and courage evidenced by the founding members of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. This award honors an individual or organization demonstrating an exemplary commitment to advancing access and success of the Latinx population in higher education; evidencing a pioneering spirit in forging transformational avenues and inclusionary opportunities that support and promote Latinx issues; and achieving outstanding accomplishments aligned with AAHHE’s mission. The AAHHE Founders' Award is now named after Dr. Mildred García. You may see Dr. García's biography and photo here.

Founding Members (January 2003) include:

William Aguilar, California State University, San Bernardino; Norma V. Cantú, School of Law, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Jaime Chahin, Texas State University; Dr. Mildred García, American Association of State Colleges & Universities; Mr. Dave Gonzales, State Farm Insurance Companies, Western Zone; Dr. Juan C. Gonzales, College of Education, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Virginia Gonzalez, North Hampton Community College; Dr. Alfredo de los Santos Jr., Hispanic Research Center, Arizona State University; Dr. Estela López, Connecticut State University System; Dr. Loui Olivas, Professor Emeritus, WP Carey School of Business, Arizona State University; Dr. Eduardo Padrón, President, Retired, Miami Dade Community College; Mr. Jesus Rangel, Anheuser-Busch Company; Dr. Ricardo Romo, President, Retired, The University of Texas – San Antonio.


2022 AAHHE Mildred García Founders' Award Recipient


Adela de la Torre, PhD
San Diego State University


Adela de la Torre, PhD is the first woman and first Latina to serve as a permanently appointed president of San Diego State University (2018).  An accomplished economist, public health researcher and higher education leader for more than three decades, President de la Torre is known for her authenticity and collaborative approach to leading by listening and example. Throughout her academic career, de la Torre has advanced the values of inclusion, equity, and achievement, focusing on the support that students and faculty need to be highly successful in their chosen fields.

President de la Torre was vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity at University of California, Davis. She also served for 14 years as director for the UC Davis Center for Transnational Health, chair of the UC Davis Chicana/Chicano Studies Department and director of the Hispanic Center of Excellence in the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona, where she was also director of the Mexican American Studies and Research Center. Formerly a professor at California State University, Long Beach, the University of Arizona, and UC Davis, where she was the first Latina to rise to the rank of Distinguished Professor, President de la Torre earned her bachelor’s degree in the political economy of natural resources from the University of California, Berkeley. She also received her master’s degree and PhD in agricultural and resource economics from UC Berkeley.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and daughter of a single mother who taught public school for 40 years. She holds a deep appreciation for cultural traditions, the importance of family and hard work and for the transformative power of education.


List of past recipients of the previously known President's Award:

  • 2021 Joe I. Castro
  • 2020 Monica C. Lozano
  • 2019 Mari-Luci Jaramillo
  • 2018 Gary Francisco Keller