New Mexico Highlands University Names New Dean of the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work

Dr. César G Abarca has New Mexico roots, comes to NMHU from Cal Poly Humboldt

June 8, 2023

Dean of the School of Social Work, César G Abarca

Dr. César G Abarca

New Mexico Highlands University has named César G Abarca PhD, MSW, its Dean of the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work. Dr. Abarca comes to New Mexico Highlands University from Cal Poly Humboldt where he served on the faculty and as the coordinator for its Master of Social Work program. He begins his term on July 1.

“I have a long connection to New Mexico where I’ve lived, played, organized, and worked for six years,’ Dr. Abarca said. “I am very excited to reconnect with my social network which I have kept all these years.”

Dr. Abarca has taught social work undergraduate and graduate courses in California, New Mexico, and Massachusetts. He is bilingual and bicultural, and has practiced community work in institutional, non-profit, and grassroots community settings.

His doctoral dissertation on contingency employment took place in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He is also the founder and board of directors’ member for Los Jardines Institute (The Gardines Institute), a grassroots, community-grounded farm school located in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

“With his vast experience in academics, community work, and knowledge of New Mexico, Dr. Abarca was the best candidate to lead our School of Social Work,” NMHU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs said. “His wealth of experience, including his tenured faculty role, will serve our Social Work programs, faculty, students, and the new Center of Excellence for Social Work here in New Mexico well.

“There is a need for more social workers here in our state and Dr. Abarca is poised to lead NMHU in building the workforce pipeline for New Mexico. We welcome him as he rejoins the NMHU family.”

Dr. Abarca’s research interests are social movements, migration (theory and policy), community organizing, leadership, employment, and decolonizing methodologies/pedagogies and other ways of knowing.

“My first steps will be to connect with students, faculty, and staff members and get to better know the school and its opportunities and challenges,” Dr. Abarca said. “Active listening will be my way to learn about its programs, supports, and best practices.”

Dr. Abarca is looking forward to getting started at the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work and has a clear vision for the future of the school.

“I appreciate the many opportunities to continue to grow its social work programs, its online presence, and its historical community connections,” he said. “Also, I’ll work to preserve and enhance its statewide reputation as a prime social work school that prepares professional social workers to meet the high demands in the labor market and educate them to meet the increasing social, economic, environmental, and cultural needs of New Mexico’s communities.”