José Cuello Villanueva was born on November 22, 1947 in the City of Tampico on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. At age 7, José emigrated to Chicago with his parents, Pedro Cuello Sepúlveda and María Teodora Villanueva Cortázar and his brothers, Gilberto and Hector. Four more siblings, Beatrice, Peter, Paul and Edmund were born citizens of the United States. José obtained his initial “American” education in Catholic grammar schools and Gage Park High School before earning his B.A. in history at the University of Illinois in Chicago in 1969. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1981. He taught Latin American and United States histories at Marquette University in Milwaukee from 1983 to 1988.
José joined Wayne State University in 1989 as director of the Center for Chicano-Boricua Studies (CBS), previously Latino en Marcha (LEM), a program founded in 1971-72 in collaboration with LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development). He teaches the history of U.S. Latina/os and Latin Americans in the context of world history.
José set the foundations for the Center for Latina/o and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) as a unique community of research, teaching, learning, university programming and community outreach. His primary agenda until his retirement from teaching in 2021 has been to integrate the university and the community into each other. He facilitated the Breaking the Barriers Latina/o Issues conference series (1991-1995) and the development of the Detroit Latino Agenda and Coalition (1991-92) that highlighted the community’s challenges and opportunities in a national context. This was just the beginning. His subsequent activities are too numerous to list here.
In 2021-2022, he received awards for exceptional service from WSU President Roy M. Wilson and the Board of Governors, LA SED, and The Hispanic/Latino Commission of (the State of) Michigan (HLCOM). His scholarly awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 1988-1989 and appointment as a WSU Humanities Center Resident Scholar, 2018-2021. Emeritus is an official university status awarded for career academic excellence
José has not retired from his role as a community and academic activist. He has a unified theory of the rise and fall of civilizations that he will publish under the title of Human Imperatives, Earthly Consequences. He has a proposal for how the universities of the world can help keep Earth habitable for humans and other species. His new mission is to see Wayne State transform itself into a fully Green University to lead the way. Collaboration with all other communities is essential. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.