Carlos Albizu-Miranda is the first Hispanic Educator to have a North American University renamed in his honor. On January 1, 2000 the Board of Trustees of the Caribbean Center for Advanced Studies, which includes the Miami Institute of Psychology, conferred this honor on Dr. Albizu by renaming the two-campus institution, Carlos Albizu University.
This posthumous honor recognized Dr. Albizu’s long and distinguished career as a professor of psychology, his role in founding the institution that now bears 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 Albizu and his wife, Ermida Garcia Muñoz, left Puerto Rico for Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he earned an M.S. degree 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 Ph.D. in Psychology in the United States.
Albizu and his family returned to Puerto Rico and began teaching at the University of Puerto Rico. He also started his 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 these 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 Puerto Rico 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 Instituto Psicológico de Puerto Rico. In 1971 the name was changed to Caribbean Center for Advanced Studies. Since its founding, the school’s philosophy has always been to adapt models of psychological assessment and intervention to the sociocultural characteristics and needs of the population it serves. In 1980, Carlos Albizu expanded his field of vision by moving to the U.S. mainland and opening a sister campus as the Miami Institute of Psychology. As a result of these two campus locations in Miami and San Juan, a significant number of Hispanic psychologists are either former students of Carlos Albizu-Miranda or of his pupils. Clearly, his impact in training minority and mainstream mental health professionals in sociocultural sensitivity has been enormous. In addition to founding the two-campus school, he published extensively, with special emphasis on cross-cultural issues in mental health training and service delivery, including “A Training Model for Minority Psychologists” and “Psychological Concomitants of Poverty.” From 1980 to 1982 he was 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 died on October 6, 1984. In a memorial article in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 1985, Vol. 7. No. 3, Marion A. Wennerholm writes:
“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.”