Rodriguez Jr. was instrumental in preserving the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (SSOI) in the early 1980’s that eventually helped thousands of Hispanic students to attend and graduate from UW-Milwaukee.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
July 15, 2015
Milwaukee, WI – On Wednesday, Felipe Rodriguez Jr. retired as an Outreach Program Manager III, Office of Student Affairs in the School of Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee after 39 years of academic service. He was a former Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (renamed the Roberto Hernández Center-RHC) interim director.
In 1983, Rodriguez with the aid of H. Nelson Goodson, then a UWM student, President of La Colectiva student org. and Grievance Director of UWM Student Government along with other Colectiva members were instrumental in preventing the SSOI emergence with the multi-cultural student services as one center, thus securing its future autonomy to recruit, offer counseling services and to retain Hispanic students at UWM. Today, the RHC continues to operated as an independent student service center at the Academic Affairs in the School of Education.Rodriguez was hired in 1976 at UWM and continued to support the 1970 struggle for higher education and legacy that transpired from the historic August 27, 1970 UW-Milwaukee Chancellor’s Office take-over by member’s of the Latino Community who fought and challenged UWM’s discriminatory policy to prevent Latinos from enrolling by enforcing high prerequisite requirements and testing that kept most Hispanic student’s who were not prepared by the Milwaukee Public School system for college bound counseling and studies to help them attend two year or four UW-System state universities around Wisconsin.
Five people were arrested at the first day of the take-over of Chapman Hall on August 27, 1970, they are Jesus Salas, Dante Navarro, Marla O. Anderson, Gregorio “Goyo” Rivera and Jose Luis Huerta-Sanchez. Navarro and Anderson have passed away.
In 1970, there were only about 14 Hispanic students enrolled at UWM compared to 27,000 White students and most Latino students were foreigners. After the August 27, 1970 take-over Chapman Hall where the UWM Chancellor’s Office was located, Chancellor J. Martin Klotsche finally agreed to allow Hispanic students to enroll, even if some were still seniors at local high schools and would take credited college classes as long as they promised to continue university studies after graduation from high school.
Rodriguez who is also a well known Puerto Rican and Spanish traditional cultural singer including a musician has recently accepted a part time music instructing position with La Causa Charter School.
Historical video: UW-Milwaukee take-over of Chapman Hall in 1970 https://youtu.be/FzOpOxI_GKw