CSUSB President Morales Receives Mexico's Highest Honor

Throughout Mexico and around the world, millions of people celebrated Mexican Independence Day

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: September 16, 2016

CSUSB President Morales Receives Mexico's Highest Honor

Throughout Mexico and around the world, millions of people celebrated Mexican Independence Day culminating with the historic ringing of a bell for Cry for Freedom, "El Grito."

Cal State San Bernardino held its own festivities on Sept. 15 attended by more than 400 people at the university's lower Commons. The celebration featured live music, cultural dance performances, and speeches in Spanish and English and was sponsored by the university's Latino Education and Advocacy Days project and the Mexican consulate in San Bernardino.

The celebration had special meaning for CSUSB: University President Tomás D. Morales was given the Ohtli Award, Mexico's highest honor presented to a civilian outside the country.

Alejandro Gutierrez, a first-generation Mexican American and CSUSB Associated Students president, welcomed the crowd.

"We're delighted to have you here on the anniversary of the independence of Mexico," Gutierrez told the audience. "This is a special day for our campus community as we gather to celebrate the honoring of our university president, Dr. Tomás D. Morales."
Mexican Consul Enrique Salomón Rosas Ramírez reminded the audience of the importance of Mexican Independence Day and paid tribute to Morales.

"We celebrate our national identity, our culture, our Mexican and Latino heritage and together with our families we honor our heroes who gave us liberty," Rosas Ramirez said. "We give a special thanks to Cal State San Bernardino and especially to our great, great friend, Dr. Tomás Morales. We greatly appreciate your valuable support to maintain our Mexican culture and traditions".

Eunice Rendon Cardenas, head of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad under the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also honored Morales.

"We are very happy to give this special award to Mr. Tomás Morales with our Ohtli Award, which is the most special award we have from the Mexican government to the people that work with special efforts and do remarkable work in different agendas related to our migrants and our Mexican communities all over the world, but especially in the United States," Rendon said.

"Ohtli" is a Nahuatl word signifying "open roads" and that is what Morales had done through his service to the community and nation especially in educational issues affecting the Mexican and Latino populations, Rendon said.

Morales accepted the award on behalf of the entire university "at a time when so much attention within our country is focused on struggles involving issues of race, immigration and human rights. I dedicate this award to continuing the efforts to provide access to affordable educational opportunities for all – including immigrants. This university will continue to help increase the education level within the local workforce and strive to improve the quality of life for all who call the Inland Empire home."

Morales also received certificates of recognition from the California State Assembly and Assembly member Cheryl Brown; the city of San Bernardino and Mayor Carey Davis; and the San Bernardino City Unified School District and Superintendent Dale Marsden.
Morales, who is in his fifth year in leading Cal State San Bernardino, was recently named one of "The 2016 101 Most Influential Latinos" by Latino Leaders Magazine.

As CSUSB president, Morales has focused his attention on increasing student retention and graduation rates. He was instrumental in the introduction of the award-winning Coyote First STEP (Student Transition Enhancement Program), an initiative to increase college readiness and graduation rates for incoming first-year students.

Under Morales' leadership, CSUSB is working with school districts in San Bernardino and Riverside counties to increase high school graduation rates and college readiness. He and other educational and business partners lead the Southern California Initiative for Education and Prosperity, a collaborative consortium - consisting of two universities, 11 community colleges and 67 school districts, along with county and business leaders - to increase baccalaureate degree attainment. The consortium was the recipient of the governor's $5 million Innovation in Higher Education grant.

During his more than 40-year career in higher education, Morales is one of the few higher education administrators in the United States who has held senior administrative positions at the three largest public university systems in the nation: The California State University, The State University of New York, and The City University of New York.
He currently serves as chairman of HACU and chairman of the TIAA Hispanic Advisory Board, and had served as chairman of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. He holds a B.A. in history from SUNY, New Paltz, and earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in educational administration and policy studies from SUNY, Albany.

Set in the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, CSUSB is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in inland Southern California. CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually. CSUSB is listed among the best colleges and universities in the western United States, according to The Princeton Review, Forbes and U.S. News and World Report.

For an electronic image of Cal State San Bernardino President Tomás D. Morales and more information about Cal State San Bernardino, call the university's Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit

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