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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Professor honored from year to year


Courtesy of the University of Arizona Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Malcolm Compitello, a professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese, has been honored several times throughout his career.

Professor Malcolm Compitello has been a part of the UA faculty and staff since 1995 and has won several awards during his time here.

Compitello grew up in Long Island, N.Y., attended high school at Manhasset, N.Y., and received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish and master’s degree in Hispanic literature at St. John’s University.

Compitello was offered a position as head of the Spanish and Portuguese department at the UA by the dean of humanities. He was nominated for the job because many of the faculty members were retiring, and the university needed more employees. The UA found him through a database.

“I decided it would be a good professional move,” Compitello said.

Compitello has been working at the UA and living in Tucson since 1995 and said he still enjoys his job. He added that the university has remained fairly consistent with regards to putting students first and always valuing its teachings. The only thing that has changed over the years is its new buildings being developed.

Benjamin Fraser, a UA postgraduate student, obtained his master’s degree in 2002 and his doctorate degree in 2006. Today, he is a tenured professor of Hispanic studies and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at East Carolina University.

Fraser said Compitello has been his adviser, mentor, colleague, collaborator and friend. 

“While I was a grad student at the [UA], it was already very clear to me that he saw the profession through a very human lens,” Fraser wrote in an email. “His modesty about receiving the [Association of Departments of Foreign Languages] Award for Distinguished Service hides his well-earned reputation for putting people first and is well-deserved for an unmatched career, not only in regards to his innovative research and teaching of the highest order, but especially serving the profession by always tackling the big questions facing the field and inspiring others to do so.”

Fraser said Compitello’s journal, Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, was first published in 1997. It is the top cultural studies journal in the broad field of Hispanic studies.

“It’s a tangible representation of his push to create collaborative and inclusive forums, to dialogue on big issues in the field and to bring everyone to the table,” Fraser said.

As a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese department, Compitello teaches general education courses, freshmen colloquiums, and undergraduate and graduate classes. He said he has always liked the diversity of instructing students at different educational levels.

Compitello said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew what he was good at in school: speaking Spanish. The jobs leading up to his career as a professor concerned teaching. 

Compitello, 69, has no plans to retire any time soon.

“Someday, I’ll think about that,” he said, “but right now, I’m having too much fun doing my job.”


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