Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre of the Hope College religion faculty has been named the 2002 recipient of the "Outstanding Hispanic Educator" award by the Michigan Hispanic Legislative Caucus.
De La Torre, an assistant professor of religion, will be recognized on Wednesday, Sept. 25, during the Hispanic Heritage Dinner being held at the Lansing Center. The event is scheduled in conjunction with national Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15.
De La Torre has been active both nationally and locally in promoting issues dealing with the Latino community.
He has recently finished a term where he was the only Latino serving on the editorial board of the "Journal of Religious Ethics." From 2000 to 2001 he served as elected vice president of La Comunidad, an academic organization which meets during the American Academy of Religion to advance the needs and concerns of Latina/o scholars within academia. From 1999 to 2001 he was the only Latino on the "Committee for the 21st Century" of the Society of Christian Ethics. He also founded and organized "Etica Latina: A Hispanic Ethical Perspective," an interest group for the Society of Christian Ethics.
Locally, De La Torre is secretary of Tulipanes: the Latino Art and Film Festival, and the past vice president of Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP). He also writes a bi-monthly column rooted in the Latino social context for "The Holland Sentinel."
Recent volunteer activities include serving as a facilitator for the education portion of the first annual Holland Latino Leadership Conference, held this month, and serving on the Hate Crimes Response Council for the City of Holland. He has helped organize events including the third annual Cesar Chavez festival, and helped in the planning of the Holland Race Summit.
He has served as a keynote speaker, both locally and nationally, for numerous business, civic and religious groups, in addition to preaching at the invitation of local congregations.
De La Torre's scholarly works include three books published within the past year: "The Quest for the Cuban Christ: A Historical Search" (University Press of Florida), "Reading the Bible from the Margins" (Orbis Books) and "Introducing Latino/a Theologies" (Orbis Books). He has also written six book chapters and eight articles published in professional journals since coming to Hope.
He has four other books en route to publication: "La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami" (University of California Press), "Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America" (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing), "Handbook of U.S. Theologies of Liberation" (Chalice Press) and "Doing Ethics from the Margins" (Orbis Books).
De La Torre joined the Hope faculty in 1999. He was previously an instructor at Temple University for four years, and prior to that had been an adjunct instructor at Boyce Bible College. He has also been a visiting professor at West Chester University, Immaculata College, Rutgers University and Fuller Theological Seminary.
He holds a doctorate and master of arts degree in religion from Temple University; a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a master of public affairs degree from American University. He completed his undergraduate degree in political science at Florida International University.
The Michigan Hispanic Legislative Caucus also presents awards in the arts, business and economic development, civic involvement, and youth leadership, and for lifetime achievement. Those being recognized during the dinner include six award recipients and five high school-age scholarship recipients.
Of the total of 11 people being honored on Sept. 25, four are from Holland. In addition to De La Torre, the local honorees include Lupita Reyes, recipient of the Outstanding Hispanic Lifetime Achievement award, and scholarship recipients Efrain Munoz and Diana Vargas. Munoz and Vargas, students at Holland High School, are both participants in the Hope College Upward Bound Program.