William Paterson’s Fuentes receives award from American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education

David Fuentes, associate dean and professor of teacher education in the College of Education at William Paterson University in Wayne, has been named the recipient of the 2024 Mildred García Founder’s Award, presented by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education.

The award, named after Dr. Mildred García, the former president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, honors exemplary commitment to advancing access and success of the Latinx population in higher education.

Fuentes investigates educator experiences, including the experiences of educators of color in K-12 schools and in higher education settings. His current research focuses on high-needs school communities and understanding issues of equity as they relate to the function, purpose and outcomes of public education.

“Dr. Fuentes’ work is squarely rooted in his commitment to advancing access and success of the Latinx population at William Paterson, and not only for the current generation of college students, but for future students from kindergarten through college and beyond, by focusing on recruiting, retaining and promoting Latinx teachers who will educate future generations,” William Paterson University President Richard Helldobler said. “During his decade of work at our institution, he has made an indelible imprint on our community, and we are thrilled that he has been honored with this award.”

Fuentes was named associate dean of William Paterson’s College of Education in 2022. He joined the university faculty in 2012. Prior to joining the university, Fuentes served as an English language learner teacher in elementary and high schools in Massachusetts, an English language learner writing instructor at the University of Puerto Rico and a graduate teaching assistant at Pennsylvania State University.

During his tenure at William Paterson, Fuentes has spearheaded numerous initiatives. He is project director for a four-year, $1.6 million U.S. Department of Education Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence grant, which is focused on making New Jersey’s teacher workforce more diverse. Through the grant, William Paterson will recruit students from underrepresented populations as teacher candidates, providing intensive and individualized academic support, as well as flexible and integrated pathways to professional certification and licensure, clinical experiences coupled with paid employment through substitute teaching or paraprofessional roles and guidance from in-district mentors-in-residence in partnership with five high-needs school districts: Bloomfield, Clifton, Haledon/Manchester, Passaic and Paterson.

He also helped launch the College of Education’s Aspiring Educators Program, which aims to diversify the state’s teaching workforce through a partnership with high school students from underrepresented backgrounds — rising juniors and seniors who are interested in teaching as a profession.