By Dennis Bixler-Márquez, Ph.D.
I knew Juan Sandoval from his arrival to UTEP in the early eighties and was surprised that he hailed from a southern Colorado community that I knew well due to having researched it in the late seventies. We established a friendship that continued with the sharing of news from that region.
As the librarian assigned to Chicano Studies, Juan collaborated with me and the faculty in building up the Chicano Studies Collection, acquiring data basis for research, and acquiring books and AV materials that supported our curriculum. He attended the annual NACCS conference to acquire the latest relevant books for our collection.
His zealous stewardship of the collection resulted in a top-notch archive that has attracted Fulbright and SSRC scholars to conduct research at UTEP. Books in that collection are typically autographed by the author if the person came to campus, just one of many details that Juan accomplished to enhance the collection.
During the almost 40 years that I have known Juan, I gradually discovered Juan’s artistic bend. He became a major art connoisseur and collector, as well as a generous patron of upcoming artists. He spoke at various artistic events on-and-off campus aptly representing the University in the area of Chicano art. He became a major and well liked figure in El Paso’s artistic community.
I enjoyed socializing with him at the various events he supported with his presence and found him to be very engaging and willing to establish new friendships. Juan played a very significant role in the training of students and faculty to access the UTEP library.
I clearly recollect how for the longest time he provided orientations to students and individual consultations to faculty from Mexico in Spanish. Several large student groups from northern Mexico were the recipients of Juan’s expertise and generous use of his time.
Many are the local and foreign scholars whose thesis and dissertation mentioned in glowing terms how beneficial Juan was to the successful completion of their research. Juan will be sorely missed by the faculty, students, colleagues and the artistic community. He was truly a walking example of the University’s civic engagement approach to our community.
Dennis Bixler-Márquez, Ph.D. is the Director of Chicano Studies at UTEP.
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