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Presidential Fellow Dr. Rueben Martinez honored with new Legacy Campaign

June 6, 2011

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At a reception last Friday, June 3 at Chapman University honoring Ruebén Martinez — education and literacy advocate and owner of Santa Ana’s iconic Libreria Martinez — a large crowd of friends, family members, community supporters and Chapman colleagues celebrated his new title: DR. Ruebén Martinez.   Chapman bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Martinez during its recent 2011 Commencement ceremonies, adding that title to one he has cherished since 2009: Chapman University Presidential Fellow.   

 Summing up his experience as a Presidential Fellow at Chapman – in which capacity he works on recruiting new students from underserved areas, particularly first-generation students – Dr. Martinez said, “ I don’t walk to this campus – I float!  It’s a dream come true to work here at Chapman.”

 “Ruebén Martinez is a great friend and a charismatic leader who always reminds us of values we sometimes forget: hard work, humbleness, and especially passion for what he does,” said Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., chancellor of Chapman University.  “Ruebén, you have succeeded in sharing your paradise of books with your community and our students, and for that, we thank you.”

 “Have you seen Ruebén speak at high schools?” asked Don Cardinal, Ph.D., dean of the College of Educational Studies.  “The students look at him like ‘This is the man who can change my life.’ And then he does.  It’s a truly amazing thing that he’s doing, that he continues to do.”

Dean Cardinal further cited Martinez’ tireless work in the community to inspire a love of literacy and culture.

“Rueben Martinez has become larger than himself. He represents the common person and the notion that common can and should also mean literate and cultured. That art, books, learning, family and community belong to all people and can be enjoyed by all people. Rueben’s life transcends social class and income level, age and gender, politics and ethnicity, borders and limitations.  Rueben Martinez embodies the American Dream, what one can be when one dreams and strives toward those dreams.  Rueben Martinez is America,” he said.

 Chapman University’s president, James Doti, Ph.D., said, “I can’t think of anyone with a more positive spirit than Dr. Ruebén Martinez.  I’m a child of immigrants to this country, and a first-generation college student myself, so I know what it means to our students and prospective students to have someone like Ruebén encouraging them.  I’m so proud that he’s part of our Chapman community.”

 An additional announcement was made during the reception: Chapman University’s College of Educational Studies has established the Dr. Ruebén Martinez Legacy Campaign, which will  create scholarships for first-generation students, support literacy projects in local schools, support the Ruebén Martinez book collection, establish perpetual partnerships between Chapman and nearby neighborhoods to sustain educational transformation in our local communities and beyond, and create a permanent location at Chapman to celebrate the life’s work and contributions of Dr. Martinez.   Gifts of any size in Dr. Martinez’ honor are appreciated.  For more information and to support this campaign, please contact Pattie Sobczak, director of development, College of Educational Studies, at 714-532-7702 or

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