HSU Western Heritage Lecture Series to Examine the Latino Sports Heritage of The West


Photos: Dr. Jorge Iber, Dr. Tiffany Fink

The Latino cultural heritage of the American west is the topic of the 2014 Guy Caldwell Western Heritage Lecture Series.

The lecture, “Sport: An Important Facet of Latino Life in the American West,” will be Friday, January 31, 2014, 7:30 p.m. in the Johnson Building multipurpose room on the Hardin-Simmons University campus.

This is the ninth year for the Guy Caldwell Western Heritage Lecture Series. Dr. Tiffany Fink, the series organizer since its inception in 2006, says the lecture promises to be engaging to a wide audience as Dr. Jorge Iber weaves his own story of multiculturalism with those of Latino athletes in the United States, including the life and career of baseball pitching great, Mike Torrez.

Iber, a noted scholar and teacher, serves as associate dean and professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas Tech University. A Cuban American who left his native country at the age of six, Iber says that he gained an immigrant’s love for the United States as his parents worked in factories in Miami. 

The lecture will examine the Latino sporting experience in the United States by covering topics ranging from cultural issues to economics. Fink notes, “Dr. Iber brings a reputation for delivering dynamic, exciting lectures. He puts the audience as ease while holding them in the palm of his hand. People will not leave disappointed as this lecture blends two worlds, the history of the American West and the role of sports in cultural identity.”

Iber received his Ph.D. in history (1997) from the University of Utah and teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in U. S. sports history, Mexican American history, and U.S. Latino history.

Iber is the author and co-author of several publications, including his most recent, Latinos in U.S. Sport: A History of Isolation, Cultural Identity and Acceptance. Finks says, “The book spans a period of 500 years, from the 16th century to the present, and is the first comprehensive exploration of Latino culture and its relationship to sports in what is now the United States.”

Iber is also the series editor for theSports in the American West Series at Texas Tech University Press. Two works have been published in this series, including Playing in Shadows: Texas and Negro League Baseball (2010), written by HSU assistant professor of Educational Studies, Dr. Rob C. Fink. Four more books have now been approved for publication.

About the Guy Caldwell Western Heritage Lecture Series:

The Guy Caldwell Western Heritage Lecture Series began in 2006 to promote and preserve the western legacy that is closely tied to Hardin-Simmons University, the Abilene area, and West Texas. The series is funded by the Guy Caldwell Endowment.

Guy and Jeanette Caldwell, both HSU graduates, worked diligently during their lives to support their alma mater and to serve in church and civic leadership positions in the Abilene community, as well as the Albany community, where they ran a 25,000 acre ranch and farm.

Henry Guy Caldwell was born in Breckenridge, Texas, September 24, 1904, the only son of C. M. "Judge" and Cora Belle Caldwell. He graduated from Breckenridge High School in 1922, at which time the Caldwell family moved to Abilene, in part, so that he could attend what was then known as Simmons College. He graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 1927 with a major in economics and a minor in history.  

Like his father before him, Guy Caldwell was a strong supporter of HSU, serving on HSU's Board of Development, the Academic Foundation, and as a member of the Board of Trustees.

During the Great Depression, Guy Caldwell worked with other Simmons College alumni to establish the Dollar-a-Month Club to keep the university open during the economic calamity. HSU’s president, Dr. Rupert Richardson, noted that the alumni club proved so inspirational to the faculty, staff, and administrators that many took as much as a 50% pay cut during the 1930s. 

In the early 1950s Guy and Jeanette Caldwell, in conjunction with the Cowboy Band and members of the HSU faculty, worked with evangelist Billy Graham to produce a motion picture designed to carry a gospel message. To repay the Caldwells and HSU for support and assistance, Dr. Graham spent a day on campus visiting with students, faculty and staff, and delivering an evangelical message to the largest crowd ever gathered at HSU’s Rose Field House.

In 1958, Guy Caldwell received the John J. Keeter, Jr. Alumni Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an HSU graduate. In 1981, Guy and Jeanette Caldwell were the first couple to receive jointly the Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Dr. Jesse Fletcher, HSU president emeritus, describes Guy Caldwell as the son of pioneers and the consummate West Texan, “With the deep faith that so often characterized the founding fathers, he could be counted on as a rancher, a family man, a churchman, a citizen, and a friend. That spirit, so beautifully practiced by Guy and his college sweetheart and wife, Jeanette, will be reflected on the campus throughout the years,” said Fletcher.

The lecture is Friday, January 31, 2014, 7:30 p.m., Johnson Building multipurpose room, Hardin-Simmons University. Iber’s book will be available for purchase at the event.


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