Published: Sept. 19, 2018

En memoriam: Dr Elisa Facio


Dr. Elisa Facio, one of the foundational members of the Department of Ethnic Studies, passed away on August 30, 2018. Dr. Facio dedicated her life to fighting for social justice and for spaces of respect and empowerment for Chicanas, faculty and students of color, and all marginalized communities in the academy and beyond. Dr. Facio was a dedicated scholar-activist whose ground-breaking book, “Understanding Older Chicanas: Sociological and Policy Perspectives,” (SAGE Publications, 1995) was one of the first academic publications to center the lived experiences of older Mexican American women. This work highlights the ways older Chicanas strategically negotiate cultural expectations in their communities and the larger US society, while advocating for public policies that support them.


More recently her book chapter, “(Re)constructing Chicana Movimiento Narratives 1968-1974” found in her co-authored book, Enduring Legacies: Ethnic Histories and Cultures of Colorado (University Press of Colorado, 2011), highlights the crucial and often overlooked roles Chicana students played in political and community leadership at CU Boulder from 1968-1978. This book was a collaborative effort by faculty in the Department of Ethnic Studies.  Her most recent co-edited and highly acclaimed book, Fleshing the Spirit (University of Arizona Press, 2014), theorizes feminista spirituality and social activism.


Dr. Facio was a student-centered faculty member.  As part of the Venceremos Brigada, she introduced undergraduate majors and minors and graduate student affiliates to Cuba helping to pioneer deeply meaningful cultural and academic enrichment experiences in Cuba. For our students to meet other students, faculty musicians, activists, and community leaders in Cuba, the experience was deeply transformative.  In the classroom, she challenged her students to think critically about the world and interrogate the conditions in which Chicanx and communities of color live and thrive.  As a former student now a professor attests, “[H}er office was a haven for students who needed a space to feel safe, valued, and heard--and to be reminded that they belonged at the University.” She honored their nascent brilliance and encouraged students to their own productions of knowledge that are intersectional, comparative and decolonial.  In fact, many of her students have followed in her footstep and are now tenure-track and tenured faculty committed to honoring and continuing her legacy.


Dr. Facio earned her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and spent most of her career here at the University of Colorado, Boulder and more recently at Eastern Washington University. Here is a link to learn more about the struggles she endured as a working-class Chicana doctoral student at UC Berkeley.


If you want to share memories and condolences here is the link to the funeral house coordinating the memorial services and/or learn about the services to be held in October


As is said México and the borderlands, Que en Paz Descanse/ Rest in peace.