NEWARK, N.J. – Hilda Hidalgo wasn’t born in the City of Newark, but she called it home for nearly four decades, taught at Rutgers University, Newark, for 23 years, and made an impact on both the city and the university that is still being felt today. So it is more than fitting that the City of Newark is renaming an intersection in her honor –and that the intersection is on the university campus she loved.
This Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 2:30 p.m., the corner of University Avenue and New Street will be officially dedicated as Hilda Hidalgo Way. The ceremony will bring together family, friends and former colleagues of Rutgers Professor Emeritus Hilda Hidalgo, along with members of the community and representatives from Rutgers University and the City of Newark. The ceremony, which is open to all, will take place on the New Street Plaza adjacent to the intersection.
Dr. Hidalgo, 81, who died Nov. 8, was both a distinguished scholar at Rutgers and the co-founder of several community organizations which have impacted the lives of countless residents of New Jersey, especially in the Newark area: Aspira Inc. of NJ, La Casa de Don Pedro, the Puerto Rican Congress, the United Community Foundation, the Newark Urban League, and the United Community Corporation. Until recently she was an active member of Equality Florida and Friends of Wild Iris, organizations that fight for the rights of gays and lesbians. Dr. Hidalgo also chaired the first Puerto Rican Convention of New Jersey and served as vice-president of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
During her career, Dr. Hidalgo received numerous honors, including the Maria De Castro Blake Community Service Award, the Rutgers Presidential Award for Public Service and the Pioneer of Aspira of New Jersey, Inc. award. She was named by the Ladies Home Journal as one of “50 American Heroines” and was selected by the State of New Jersey as one of 13 women honored during Women’s History Week in 1986. She also was named Puerto Rican Woman of the Year” by Essex County College in 1978.
Dr. Hidalgo, a native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, came to Newark, N.J., in 1960, working first as district director of the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex, then as director of child services, until 1970. At Rutgers she first taught at the School of Social Work in New Brunswick, and then came to the campus in Newark to teach in what was then the Department of Public Administration (now the School of Public Affairs and Administration.) At Rutgers-Newark, she taught as well as created new programs in the departments of Social Work and Public Administration in which she later directed the first Masters of Social Work for Hispanics and a Bilingual, Bicultural Masters Program in Public Administration. At times she also coordinated the Puerto Rican Studies Program on campus.
After retiring from Rutgers, she was assistant commissioner of education for the State of New Jersey from 1994-95.