In a formal ceremony at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, on September 12, former Rep. and CMC Board of Trustees member David Dreier ’75 and Roderic Camp, the Philip M. McKenna Professor of the Pacific Rim, will be honored with the award for the impact their work has had on Mexico.
The award was created in 1955 by Mexico’s then President Abelardo L. Rodríguez to recognize individuals who had contributed significantly to both Mexico and humanity at large. To this day, the country’s president is the only one who can issue this distinction. Dreier and Camp joined an elite group of past recipients, including President Dwight Eisenhower, civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
The Order of the Aztec Eagle is the highest honor foreigners can receive from the Mexican government – and two seminal figures from the Claremont McKenna College community were awarded it this past July.
For former Rep. Dreier, the award comes as something of a culmination to a storied career in the U.S. Congress, where he worked closely with the Mexican government on a number of issues concerning U.S.-Mexico relations. During his congressional tenure, Dreier was considered one of the leading policy experts on international trade and immigration; he also played a foundational role in the U.S-Mexico Caucus and was an early proponent of NAFTA.
“Growing up in the Midwest and then enrolling at CMC, I couldn't help but develop a fascination with Mexico,” Dreier said. “We are inextricably tied. It's an honor to accept the Order of the Aztec Eagle not for myself but rather for the millions of Americans who understand the importance of the relationship between our two great countries.”
This isn’t the first time Dreier has been recognized for his extensive work to bridge the two countries. In 2013, he was honored at a meeting held by the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group (IPG) in Mexico City for his contributions to dialogue and economic growth through the Annenberg-Dreier Commission, which he chairs.
“How great it is for this award to be given to CMC Professor Camp at the same time,” he said.
Likewise, Camp has devoted much of his professional life to Mexico, and the distinction crowns a scholarly inquiry into Mexico’s political history that spans 50 years. The Diario Oficial de la Federación, the government of Mexico’s daily publication, said Camp is “one of the most important promoters of Mexican culture in the United States of America. His constant interest and extensive knowledge of our country have positioned him as a recognized internationalist in various parts of the world.”
He is being honored with the Order of the Aztec Eagle for his contribution to the promotion of Mexican culture in the United States through his work in academia.
“It’s an honor to be able to educate both Americans and Mexicans about Mexico,” Camp said, “and to be recognized for this.”
Camp, who grew up in Orange, Calif., credits his early interest in Mexico to his mother and her volunteer work with Mexican immigrants.
“She told me to learn as much Spanish as I could,” he said.
Although Camp initially enrolled at George Washington University with his sights set on becoming a foreign diplomat, he discovered he was more drawn to teaching Mexico studies at the college level. At the age of 19, he traveled by bus from Santa Ana, Calif., to Mexico City to study at the University of the Americas – now Universidad de las Américas, A.C. While traveling the length of the country, he explained, he fell in love with it and its people.
Since those early studies in Mexico City, Camp has been called “one of the most distinguished scholars of Mexican politics.” He has authored more than 30 books and hundreds of scholarly papers on Mexican politics. Outside of teaching, he is an Advisory Editor for the Oxford University Press, focusing on Latin American research. He is also an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations. This distinction from the Mexican government adds to a number of fellowships and grants he has received during his scholarly career.