José Fernández, dean of UCF’s College of Arts & Humanities, was named one of Central Florida’s 25 most influential Hispanics in the current issue of Vision Magazine.
More than 100 elected officials, business executives, journalists and other notables were nominated for consideration because of their demonstrated leadership and contributions to the enrichment and overall growth of Hispanics in Central Florida. The quarterly magazine is published by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando.
Fernández moved with his family from Cuba to the United States when he was 12, and is now the highest ranking Hispanic administrator at UCF. He is responsible for the administrative oversight of the college, building new college policies and developing new programs of excellence.
He earned a doctorate at Florida State University in 1973 and came to UCF as a visiting Spanish-language professor in 1981. He was chairman of the Foreign Language and Literature Department before he was named dean.
In addition to winning the Pegasus Professor Award, UCF’s highest honor for teaching, research and service, Fernández has written dozens of books both in English and Spanish. In 2008, President George W. Bush appointed him to the National Museum of the American Latino Commission.
In an article about him in the magazine, Fernandez compares himself to “the first Hispanic explorers visiting the New World.”
Other university-related recipients named to the magazine’s top-25 list were: UCF alumnus Tico Perez, a member of the Board of Governors of the State University System, and Conrad Santiago, a former UCF Board of Trustees member.
Perez, a son of Cuban immigrants, is co-founder of Edge Public Affairs and serves as national commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America.
Santiago, managing director of Conrad Santiago & Associates/Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., was a founding member and the first president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando.