Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics


Jose Antonio Vargas

2017-18 Wayne Morse Chair

Jose Antonio Vargas seeks to share diverse narratives, including his own, about who migrants and immigrants are. In 2008, he was a rising young star in journalism who won a Pulitzer Prize as part of the Washington Post team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings. In 2011, he published a story in the New York Times Magazine titled “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” Since then, he has devoted himself to changing the cultural and policy conversations about immigration through filmmaking and activism.

Vargas is the founder of two organizations. Define American is a non-profit media and culture organization “that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship.” #EmergingUS is a digital platform that lives at the intersection of race, immigration, and identity; it is the first-ever media property owned by an undocumented immigrant. Vargas has written for many publications, including The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and The Huffington Post. His documentary films include “Documented” and “White People.” His awards include a Public Service Award from the National Council of La Raza, the country’s largest Latino/a advocacy organization; the Salem Award from the Salem Award Foundation, which draws upon the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692; and the Freedom to Write Award from PEN Center USA.

About the Wayne Morse Chair
The Wayne Morse Chair is one of the most distinguished chairs at the University of Oregon. Established in 1981, it honors Wayne Morse, the U.S. Senator and former Dean of the UO School of Law. Occupants of the Wayne Morse Chair exemplify the characteristics of Wayne Morse: integrity, independence, and respect for the rule of law and civil liberties. Occupants of the Wayne Morse Chair have included prominent public intellectuals, activists, scholars, policymakers, and writers. During their residencies at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, they have delivered major public addresses, taught classes, and engaged in wide-ranging conversations with audiences in the university, the local community, and the state.


Previous Wayne Morse Chairs:

  • Amy Stuart Wells (2016-17)
  • Gary Orfield (2015-16)
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (2014-15)
  • William “Terry” Fisher (2013-14)
  • Robert Kuttner (2012-13)