Passionate California Engineering School Dean Dies at 70

BY 
January 3, 2019

Ricardo Jacquez, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management at California State University, Chico, who encouraged diversity in the profession, has died at 70.

Jacquez, M.ASCE, earned his degree in civil engineering from New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. After beginning his teaching career at the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1976, Jacquez returned to NMSU as a faculty member in 1981. He served its College of Engineering for 34 years, including as department head and dean.

Jacquez was known as much for his big heart as for his engineering acumen. In 2007, he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President George W. Bush and the National Science Foundation.

He left NMSU for Chico State as dean of ECC in August 2015. His dedication was evident in his work to expand the college’s reputation for academic excellence, real-world research, industry partnerships, and pre-professional experience for students. Each morning, Jacquez would walk the halls looking for open doors so he could connect directly with faculty and students and learn what was taking place in the classroom, in their student clubs, and at upcoming competitions.
“He wanted everyone to embrace each other and the college and the University,” said David Alexander, one of Jacquez’s junior faculty hires. “You could talk to

him about anything and he would listen.”

While at NMSU, he served as founding director of the NSF’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, which works to improve diversity among STEM graduates. At Chico State, he was a contributor to efforts that secured the $4.2 million Hispanic-Serving Institution STEM Grant. He was also an advocate for gender diversity and women in leadership.

Jacquez’s legacy will live on at Chico State. He established an agriculture engineering discipline at the school, and one of his last achievements was working with the College of Agriculture and Provost to create a dual-appointment faculty position that will start in fall 2019.

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