Lydia Vélez, professor emeritus of modern languages and literatures, died Jan. 10 at the age of 71.
Born in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, Vélez received her Master of Arts from City College of New York in 1976 and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in 1986. Vélez joined Cal State Fullerton as a lecturer in 1985. She was appointed assistant professor in 1996, received tenure in 2003 and was promoted to professor in 2009. Vélez entered the Faculty Early Retirement Program in 2012 and concluded her teaching career in 2017.
A dedicated teacher and respected colleague, Vélez specialized in Spanish American literature. In addition to critical articles on the works of such authors as Julia de Burgos, Elías Miguel Muñoz and Etnairis Rivera, Vélez published short stories and two collections of poetry: “Osadía de los soles truncos” (Boldness of Shattered Suns) (1991) and “Memoria de escribanas” (Memory of Women Scribes) (2000).
On campus, she founded and served as faculty adviser to the “Asociación de Alumnos y Ex-alumnos de Español” student Spanish club, supervising the organization of many cultural and academic events.
In 2017, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures established the Lydia Vélez Student of Perseverance Award to honor her tireless efforts on behalf of the department. The first awardee will be selected in spring 2018.