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Press Release

Devon G. Peña named 2012 Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professor

Contact: Tim Carroll, Office 303-556-5136, Cell 303-870-7705

Posted: October 11, 2012

(Denver) — Continuing a 15-year history of bringing renowned Latino and Latina scholars, artists and community leaders to Metropolitan State University of Denver, this year’s 2012 Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professor is lifelong environmental-justice advocate Devon G. Peña.

The theme of this year’s professorship, Oct. 23-24, is “Sacred Water y Tierra Sagrada.”

Peña is a professor of American ethnic studies, anthropology and environmental studies at the University of Washington in Seattle and holds a doctoral degree from the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of “Mexican Americans and the Environment: Tierra y Vida” and the edited volume “Chicano Culture, Ecology, Politics: Subversive Kin (Society, Environment and Place).” Peña is the founding editor of The Environmental and Food Justice blog and a contributing author for the website New. Clear. Vision. He is also the secretary of the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association in Colorado.

As part of the professorship Peña helped orchestrate several multidisciplinary field trips by MSU Denver students and faculty to Colorado’s San Luis Valley to interview farmers and ranchers in the Cristo Acequia Association about water-conservation issues.

“Dr. Peña’s ongoing work compliments the mission of the Castro Professorship through his commitment to social justice in both urban and rural communities,” says Ramon Del Castillo, associate professor and chair of Chicana/o studies and Castro Planning Committee chair. “He is helping our students bridge the gap between theory and practice by not only demonstrating the legal role Acequia Associations play, but also the need for cultural preservation of institutions that existed to support independent farming communities.”

Founded in 1997 to foster multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence at the University, the professorship honors civil rights activist and MSU Denver graduate and instructor Richard T. Castro, who served five terms in Colorado’s House of Representatives. The professorship brings renowned Latina and Latino scholars, artists and leaders to MSU Denver to conduct classes, seminars, performances and lectures for students, faculty and the larger Denver community. For more information on Castro’s legacy and Peña, visit

Free community events open to the public include:

Tue., Oct. 23

            La Bienvenida – Welcome Reception from 6 – 8 p.m.

Center for Visual Art

            965 Santa Fe Drive, Denver

Wed., Oct. 24

            Luncheon and Keynote Address from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Sin Agua, No Hay Vida – Lessons of an Arid-Sensible Life

            Devon Peña    

            St. Cajetan’s Center, Auraria Campus

            Agua Sagrada – Harvest of Life Panel from 5 – 7 p.m.

Panelists: Devon Peña; Paula Garcia, Mora County commission chair
and executive director of New Mexico Acequia Association;
and Ryan Golten, Esq., Colorado water and land rights attorney.
SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown at MSU Denver - Second Floor Salon B/C
1190 Auraria Parkway, Denver, CO 80204 (Corner: Speer Blvd/Auraria Parkway)

Seating is limited for the free public events. For more information and to RSVP visit or contact Mercedes Salazar at 303-556-3124,


With 23,000 students, MSU Denver is Colorado’s leader in educating undergraduate Coloradans and enrolls the highest number of students of color among the state’s four-year colleges. The University offers 55 majors and master’s degrees in accounting, teaching and social work. It boasts more than 75,000 alumni, the bulk of whom remain in Colorado after graduation.