Dr. Eliot Chenaux Announced as Island University Summer Commencement Speaker

By Richard Guerrero, Sydney Spangler | Published: July 26, 2019

Dr. Eliot Chenaux Announced as Island University Summer Commencement Speaker

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – “It is an honor and a pleasure to have been asked to be the summer commencement speaker at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi,” said Dr. Eliot Chenaux, former Vice President of Student Affairs Emeritus at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “At my retirement, I said if I lived my life over again, I would wish for the life we have in Corpus Christi and at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.”

When he started teaching at what was then known as Texas A&I University at Corpus Christi, Chenaux came to understand Dr. Hector P. Garcia’s dream: education is freedom. In his 38 years at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Chenaux has seen the realization of Dr. Garcia’s vision as education transformed students and their family’s lives. Now, as the keynote speaker for the summer 2019 commencement ceremony, Chenaux will once again guide Islanders as they take a monumental step towards their future.

“My message to the graduates will be to acknowledge them for their hard work,” said Chenaux. “They spent hours studying, sacrificing, missing sleep, and family activities to get their degrees. But they didn’t do it alone. They had family and friends who supported and helped them. We never achieve success alone.”

Commencement

Chenaux, who retired in 2014, will address more than 540 graduates from all six colleges during the upcoming commencement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m. at the American Bank Center. This is the University’s largest summer commencement to date with a 24% growth from summer 2015.

Throughout his career, Chenaux grew with the University as the institution blossomed into the thriving Islander community it is today. Starting as an assistant professor of Spanish, he quickly advanced in his career to become the Dean of Students, and then the Vice President for Student Affairs. He oversaw all planning for student activities, recreational sports, counseling, the Women’s Center, and disability services as well as the development of core curriculum. Additionally, he supervised the creation of the University’s cherished mascot, Izzy the Islander, with the help of the Student Government Association.

During his tenure as Vice President for Student Affairs, he helped plan and oversee the building of the University Center, the Dugan Wellness Center, and phases of on-campus student housing. He also witnessed firsthand the transition of the University from Texas A&I at Corpus Christi to Corpus Christi State University and finally Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

“The greatest accomplishments at the University for me were to see students begin their studies and then graduate,” said Chenaux. “Graduations were always the happiest moments. I will always remember the students who sacrificed, worked hard and endured to get a degree.”

Chenaux attended Saint Louis University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and a doctoral degree in Hispanic Languages and Literature. As a young man, he swam for Puerto Rico and competed in the Pan American Games in Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1963 and in Winnipeg, Canada in 1967. In 1964, he represented Puerto Rico in the Tokyo Olympics. 

“I received my degrees and doctorate because of scholarships and teaching assistantships,” said Chenaux. “My father did not have a degree, but I can still hear him say, ‘Mi hijo el doctor.’ He was proud of me just as I am of those graduating from our University.” 

To learn more about the ceremony or to watch a live stream the day of the event, visit the commencement website. Make it a social occasion by sharing your graduation celebration photos or tweets by using #IslanderForever and #IslanderImpact.