Juan “Tony” Trujillo

 Oral History Interview

Interview Transcript


Buddy Terry, Reilly Quinn, and Liam Rowley


Biographical Note

Juan Trujillo was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, in 1964. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brigham Young University, he went on to receive his PhD in Ibero-Romance Philology and Linguistics from the University of Texas in Austin. He has been a professor at Oregon State University since 1997 as an Assistant Professor in the School of Language and Society at Oregon State University. His job duties include: classroom instruction, scholarship development, and administrative responsibilities. He also helped develop a Difference, Power, and Discrimination course, and the Spanish Learning Community course, which is a 15 credit language-intensive course. Recently, Trujillo has been developing documentaries and writings to both further his career and self-awareness.

Interview Summary

The interview begins with Juan Trujillo’s background, including where he was raised and the background of his parents. Trujillo then discusses his education from high school to college at BYU and then in Texas. He also mentions several of his past mentors before stating his reasons for choosing to apply for a job at Oregon State University. After this, he details the past job duties he has held and his current position as assistant professor in the School of Language, Culture, and Society. The classes he teaches and has taught range from Spanish linguistics, to English linguistics, to the Spanish Learning Community class, to DPD courses. Staying with the theme of OSU, Trujillo notes several people of importance from the university. To focus on diversity at OSU, Trujillo chronicles the changes in diversity at the university, the failures of the current OSU administrative bureaucracy to effect change, the cultural centers, his role in supporting faculty of color, and his recommendations for a more diverse campus. Trujillo highlights the lack of access to resources that people of color face at OSU and in Corvallis due to its limitations as a small community. Then, speaking on a national level, Trujillo talks of the racism and wage disparity that many minorities face. The interview transitions into a more personal tone when Trujillo relays his decision to obtain a PhD, his recognition of his ethnic background, his production of a short film documentary regarding gay Mormon experiences, and his expressions through writing. To end the interview, Trujillo highlights his challenges at the university in regards to receiving tenure as well as noting his accomplishments.

Students’ Response

Juan Antonio Trujillo, “Tony” as some call him, is a professor of language at Oregon State University. Born on October seventh, 1964, Juan was raised in Tacoma, Washington, a fairly urbanized city located just South of Seattle. Although he believes that what a person identifies themselves by changes throughout that person’s life, Juan identifies primarily as Chicano. Along with his Hispanic heritage Juan is also of Canadian decent. Juan’s mother was originally born in Canada and her family moved to the United States just after WWII when she was about fourteen years old. Juan’s father’s side on the other hand, have been present in the U.S. for “about 400 years” as Juan puts it. Juan’s father was born in a small town in New Mexico where most of his family still lives to this day. Anxious to get away from his hometown, Juan graduated high school at age seventeen and attended BYU for his undergraduate years. Shortly after acquiring his undergraduate degree, Juan moved to University of Texas (UT) in pursuit of his Ph.D. in Linguistics. After completing his graduate work at UT, Juan was offered the position of assistant professor in the school of Spanish and Linguistics in the Department of Language and Literature at OSU. Today, Juan still holds this same position in the School of Language, Culture, and Society.

Because Juan holds a position on campus that is so closely associated with students and faculty of color, we asked Juan a few key questions regarding his opinion of how welcoming Oregon State University is as a campus for both staff and students of color. Anticipating that Juan would respond optimistically to the ever rising level of diversity on campus, we were shocked by his take on the matter. We asked “How have you seen the OSU campus change over time, as far as diversity?” to this he responded, “I think in the last couple of years I have ended up feeling a bit more isolated when it comes to diversity.” Juan feels that major associations that were once involved so intimately with diversity issues on campus are no longer active, Juan named the example of The Association of Faculty for the Advancement of People of Color.

With regards to this course, we have discussed, in depth, the issue of campus hospitality and diversity, and as a class we seem to have almost always arrived at the conclusion that in the past few years Oregon State University has done well to address and make efforts towards resolving these issues. But to hear from someone who has been with OSU for over a decade, who himself identifies person of color on campus, that Oregon State University has not been moving forward but backwards was quite surprising because it contradicts a lot of the opinions people have about OSU.

Interviewing Juan was a pleasure, and we are fortunate to have him here at Oregon State. He brought up points in our interview that we had never thought about prior. We interviewed Juan with questions he had seen previously, but we also asked a couple of follow up questions. Overall we had a great experience with the project and we are glad that we could contribute to a great idea.

More About Juan “Tony” Trujillo

Juan Antonio Trujillo OSU Profile


Juan "Tony" Trujillo, Assistant Professor Foreign Languages & Literature Copyright © by Made in Collaboration by OSUL&P's Oregon Multicultural Archives & the Students of ALS 199 "Untold Stories: Histories of People of Color in Oregon" U-Engage, Fall Term 2014. All Rights Reserved.


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