Jorge Chapa (1976)

Former Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois


From the News-Gazette, Urbana.

Jorge Chapa, 62, of Urbana passed away at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana on Monday evening (Oct. 19, 2015).Jorge was born in Monterrey, Mexico, on Aug. 10, 1953, the son of Juan and Olga Chapa. He married Belinda De La Rosa on Sept. 4, 1982, in San Francisco, Calif.Jorge is survived by his mother; his wife; two sons, Juan and Roberto Chapa; one brother, Juan Chapa; and four sisters, Olga Chesser, Mercedes Robertson, Rosalinda Dussault and Elizabeth Chapa.

Jorge had a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology as well as an M.A. in demography, all from the University of California at Berkeley. His B.S. was from the University of Chicago in biology (honors) with a minor in sociology. Jorge began his distinguished academic career at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he rose to the rank of tenured professor and associate dean in the Graduate School.  His research interests focused on Latino educational achievement and access into higher education. Much of Jorge's research and policy work was driven by a desire to make positive change in the world. He was an expert witness for 10 redistricting legal cases in Texas, Illinois and Arizona. He spent one year at Michigan State University as interim director of the Julian Zamora Institute, and was the founding director of the Latino/a Studies Program at Indiana University. Jorge joined the University of Illinois in the fall of 2006, where taught in Latina/o studies and sociology; served at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs and Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program; and became director of the Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society.

He was a prolific scholar. He was widely published on the subjects of Latino policy issues and demographic trends and their political implications. His seminal 2004 book on Latino immigration to the Midwest, "Apple Pie and Enchiladas" (co-authored with Ann V. Millard on the University of Texas Press), is the standard treatment of one of the most important political and demographic changes to the region in the past generation. He was the author, editor, co-author or co-editor of 12 books, and he published 15 refereed journal articles and 18 book chapters. Jorge was incredibly involved in the scholarship of public engagement, writing for and speaking to a wide range of non-academic audiences in Illinois and around the country. In particular, he worked on many voting rights court cases and spoke frequently about the use of data in these cases.

His legacy will live on in his work, mentorship of students and faculty, and love of family and friends. He touched the lives of many people, and will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

Dissertation Title
The Increasing Significance of Class: Class, Culture and Chicano Assimilation