Carlos Albizu-Miranda is the first Hispanic educator to have a North American university named in his honor. On January 1, 2000, the Board of Trustees of the Caribbean Center for Advanced Studies, which included the Miami Institute of Psychology, conferred this honor on Dr. Albizu by renaming the two-campus institution Carlos Albizu University.
The posthumous honor recognized Dr. Albizu’s long and distinguished career as a professor of psychology, his role in founding the institution that now bore his name, and his service as the first president of the National Hispanic Psychological Association.
Born on September 16, 1920, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he earned a B.A. in Education at the University of Puerto Rico with a major in psychology and a minor in history. Following service in the U.S. Army during World War II, he worked for the Veteran’s Administration, first as a psychometrician and later as chief of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Center in Puerto Rico.
In 1950, Dr. Albizu and his wife, Ermida Garcia Muñoz, left Puerto Rico for Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he earned an M.S. in Experimental Psychology in 1951 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1953. He completed his clinical psychology internship at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Marion, Indiana. When Dr. Albizu graduated from Purdue, he became one of the first Hispanics to earn a doctorate in psychology in the United States.
Dr. Albizu and his family returned to Puerto Rico, and he began teaching at the University of Puerto Rico. He also started a private practice in psychology. He became a full professor at the university and was recognized by his peers as an outstanding educator, diagnostician, psychotherapist, and consultant.
During those years of professional growth, Dr. Albizu became deeply concerned about the need for qualified psychologists in Puerto Rico. No graduate programs in psychology were available in the country, and only a few students were able to pursue graduate studies in the United States. Those who did were trained in models and techniques not always sensitive to the needs and sociocultural characteristics of Hispanic clients.
In 1966, Dr. Albizu took what proved to be a bold pioneering step. He founded the first independent professional school of psychology in North America, initially known as the Puerto Rico Institute of Psychology. In 1971, the name was changed to the
Caribbean Center for Advanced Studies. Since its founding, the school’s philosophy has been to adapt models of psychological assessment and intervention to the sociocultural characteristics and needs of the population it serves.
In 1980, Dr. Albizu expanded his vision by moving to the U.S. mainland and opening a sister campus, known as the Miami Institute of Psychology. As a result of his achievements, a significant number of Hispanic psychologists in Puerto Rico and on the mainland are former students of either Carlos Albizu-Miranda or of his colleagues or pupils.
Dr. Albizu’s impact in training minority and mainstream mental health professionals in multicultural sensitivity has been enormous. In addition to founding the San Juan and Miami institutions that now comprise Albizu University, he published extensively, with a special emphasis on cross-cultural issues in mental health training and service delivery. His works include “A Training Model for Minority Psychologists” and “Psychological Concomitants of Poverty.” From 1980 to 1982, he served as the first president of the National Hispanic Psychological Association.
He was a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and served on the Committee of Professional and Scientific Conduct and Ethics. In 1980, the American Psychological Foundation honored Dr. Albizu with a special award for the development of psychological education in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region. He was a member of several honorary scientific organizations, including Sigma Xi, Psi Chi, and the New York Academy of Sciences.
Carlos Albizu-Miranda died on October 6, 1984. In a memorial article in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences (1985, Vol. 7. No. 3, pp. 219-223), Marion A. Wennerholm wrote:
“Dr. Albizu had an exceptional ability to dream great dreams and then convert them into realities. His enthusiasm was contagious and he was able to stimulate and motivate his colleagues by sharing his dreams with them and involving them in carrying them out. Through his tireless efforts and despite times of great adversity, his dream of a professional school of psychology became a reality.”