2016 Honorary Doctorate
Juan Felipe Herrera
Honorary Doctorate of Letters (Litt.D.)
The son of migrant farmworkers, Juan Felipe Herrera, a Fowler native and former Fresno State professor, was named as the United States 21st Poet Laureate in 2015 – the first Hispanic to be named as such. He was educated at UCLA and Stanford University and received his MFA from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
Herrera was California Poet Laureate from 2012-2014 and was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2011. He has won the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction, the Focal Award, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN West Poetry Award. His honors include the UC Berkeley Regent’s Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Stanford Chicano Fellows. He has also received several grants from the California Arts Council.
He taught at California State University, Fresno from 1990 to 2004, where he was chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies department. He recently retired as chair of the creative writing department at the University of California at Riverside.
His author’s list numbers 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children; most recently, “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes” (2014), a picture book showcasing inspirational Hispanic and Latino Americans. His most recent book of poems is “Senegal Taxi” (2013).
Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth. His creative work often crosses genres, including poetry opera and dance theater. His children’s book, “The Upside Down Boy” (2000), was adapted into a musical. His books for children and young adults, including “Calling the Doves” (2001), which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award, and “crashboomlove” (1999), a novel-in-verse for young adults, which won the Americas Award, have won several awards. His book “Half the World in Light” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize in 2009.
In recognition of his achievements, his outstanding leadership, and enormous contributions locally, regionally and nationally, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Fresno are proud to confer upon Juan Felipe Herrera the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.