UH-Downtown's Max Castillo, We Hardly Blew Ye

That was some send-off the Chronicle gave over the weekend to Max Castillo, outgoing president of UH-Downtown. It was the kind of glowing profile some cynical journalists call a "blow job."

In it we learned that Castillo:

a) is "a bilingual Hispanic, at a time when 85 percent of college presidents are white -- [and therefore] doesn't fit the mold"

b) That, somehow, we're supposed to believe the president of UH-D is a celebrity, yet Castillo remains down-to-earth: "It is less glamorous than you might imagine. Sure, there has been the occasional gala honoring Castillo for his efforts. And his small, ninth-floor office boasts a view of the downtown skyline. But there is no wall of fame, filled with photos of himself and the city's elite. No fancy furniture."

c) That he's a personofication of the American Dream: "A native of the West Texas border town of Presidio, he was a student at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, the first in his family to attend college, when a summer job led him to drop plans for law school in favor of teaching and a $5,000 paycheck. In the classroom, he discovered his calling: helping first-generation, low-income students who traditionally left school before college."

d) Finally, the faculty of UH-D just loooves him: "Faculty members credit Castillo with lifting the school from a niche institution offering a handful of bachelor's degrees to a full-spectrum university with several master's programs."

There was a brief mention of Castillo's "controversial" move to rename UH-Downtown, but that, we were told, "will be left for the next president to pursue."

You might not realize it, but there are some UH-D faculty members who are not quite convinced Castillo walks on water. They say he's bungled the whole name-change thing and is far too eager to kowtow to the central-campus authorities, especially new UH president Renu Khator.

Or that's what we hear, at least. It's nothing you'd see in the Chronicle or anything.


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