Imanol Ordorika Sacristán

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Imanol Ordorika Sacristán (born in Mexico City, October 31, 1958) is a Mexican social activist, political leader, academic and intellectual. He was one of the initiators and principal leaders of the Consejo Estudiantil Universitario at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM), with Carlos Imaz Gispert and Antonio Santos Romero, from 1986 to 1990. A founder and prominent member of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) until 2001. Professor of social sciences and education at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Op-ed writer for La Jornada and other Mexican media.


Imanol Ordorika Sacristan is the son of Imanol Ordorika Bengoechea and Maria Josefa Sacristan, Spanish Civil War refugees from the Basque country and Madrid respectively. As part of a progressive family he became acquainted with the ideals of Spanish left wing republicanism, with the Cuban Revolution, and with the 1968 Mexican student movement, since his early childhood.

Student activism[edit]

Ordorika majored in physics at the Facultad de Ciencias in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 1991. It is during his student days in the 1980s that he became a militant of the Mexican revolutionary left (izquierda revolucionaria) through the Committee Estudiantil de Solidaridad Obrero Campesina (CESOC) and as a member of Revista Punto Critico, a marxist organization and journal founded by the leaders of the 1968 Mexican student movement, and later Convergencia Comunista 7 de enero (CC7). He became an important student leader and representative to UNAM’s University Council and gained national prominence with the creation of the Consejo Estudiantil Universitario in 1986.

As a student member of the Council first, and with the Consejo Estudiantil, starting on October 31, 1986, Ordorika rejected structural adjustment policies affecting Mexican universities and, more concretely, attempts to increase tuition, restrictive student selection policies and standardized testing, proposed by rector Jorge Carpizo McGregor, at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Ordorika participated in public debates (dialogos publicos) between UNAM administrators and student leaders at the Che Guevara/Justo Sierra auditorium, transmitted live by university radio and featured prominently by the Mexican media in January 1987. During the student strike in February he was one of the selected spokespersons until CEU defeated Carpizo's structural adjustment reforms.

National politics[edit]

In 1988 Ordorika, Santos and Imaz led Mexican university students to support Cuauhtemoc Cardenas' independent presidential candidacy against the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional's Carlos Salinas. For this purpose they created the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) notably featuring Adolfo Gilly, Salvador Martínez della Rocca, Enrique González Rojo, Raul Alvarez Garin and others.

He was one of the founder and leaders of newly formed left wing party Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), led by Cárdenas. Ordorika was a member of PRD's National Committee from 1990 to 1995. In 1994 he ran as this party's candidate for Federal Congress in Mexico City district XXII.

During the 2000 presidential electoral process Ordorika was appointed spokesperson and campaign head of communications for left wing candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. After the elections and the 2001 PRD congress Ordorika distanced himself from this party and exercised a strong critique against its bureaucratic trends and centrist political positions.

Imanol Ordorika is also involved in the Mexican contemporary political debate as a public speaker, an editorial writer at La Jornada and a media commentator.

Academic life[edit]

In 1989 he became adjunct professor at the Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas at UNAM, even though he actually majored in Physics until 1991. From 1988 to 1990 he was elected member of the organizing committee for the University Congress at this university. In 1990, he was elected faculty representative to the University Congress.

Ordorika obtained master's degrees in education (1993) and sociology (1998) as well as a Ph.D degree in social sciences and education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education (1999). He has been a full professor at UNAM since 2002. Ordorika is a faculty member and higher education specialist in Mexico and abroad. He has written extensively on power relations and politics within postsecondary institutions, faculty and student movements, higher education policy and on the impact of globalization on colleges and universities. In 2004 Ordorika received the Frank Talbott Jr. Visiting University Chair from the University of Virginia and in 2006 he was awarded the Alfonso Reyes Chaire des Etudes Mexicaines by the University of Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle).

Since 2007 Imanol Ordorika is General Director for Institutional Assessment (Director General de Evaluación Institucional) at UNAM. Here has been in charge of the design and development of the Mexican Universities Comparative Study.

Recent publications[edit]


  • Ordorika, I., López R., (2007), Política Azul y Oro: Historias orales, relaciones de poder y disputa universitaria, México, DF, Seminario de Educación Superior-UNAM / Plaza y Valdés.
  • Ordorika, I. (2006), La disputa por el campus: Poder, política y autonomía en la UNAM, México, DF, Seminario de Educación Superior-UNAM / CESU-UNAM / Plaza y Valdés.
  • Ordorika, I. (2003), Power and Politics in University Governance: Organization and Change at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, New York, NY, Routledge Falmer.
  • Ordorika, I. (Ed.), (2004), La academia en jaque: Perspectivas políticas sobre la evaluación de la educación superior en México, México, DF, Seminario de Educación Superior-UNAM/CRIM-UNAM / Grupo Editorial Miguel Angel Porrua.
  • Martínez Della Rocca, Salvador y Ordorika, Imanol, (1993), UNAM, espejo del mejor México posible: la universidad en el contexto educativo nacional, México, DF, Ediciones Era.

Book chapters[edit]

  • Marginson, Simon y Ordorika, Imanol (in press). "'El central volumen de la fuerza' (The hegemonic global pattern in the reorganization of elite higher education and research)". In Rhoten, Diana y Calhoun, Craig (Eds.) The Transformation of “Public” Research Universities: Shaping an International and Interdisciplinary Research Agenda for the Social Sciences. Social Science Research Council Press, New York.
  • Ordorika, Imanol (2009). "Commitment to society: contemporary challenges for public research universities." Higher Education at a Time of Transformation (New Dynamics for Social Responsibility). Global University Network for Innovation. Palgrave-Macmillan, New York, pp. 72–74. Also published in Spanish in La Educación Superior en Tiempos de Cambio(Nuevas dinámicas para la responsabilidad social). Ediciones Mundi-Prensa. Barcelona, pp. 72–74.
  • Ordorika, Imanol (2008). "Commitment to society: contemporary challenges for public research universities." Higher Education in the World 3 (Higher Education: New Challenges and Emerging Roles for Human and Social Development). Global University Network for Innovation. Palgrave-Macmillan, New York, pp. 14–19. Also in La Educación Superior en el Mundo 2008. Ediciones Mundi-Prensa. Barcelona, pp. 14–19.
  • Ordorika, Imanol (2008). "Violencia y porrismo en la educación superior en México". In Bertussi, Guadalupe Teresinha (Ed.) Anuario educativo mexicano: visión retrospectiva, año 2005, Universidad Pedagógica Nacional - Miguel Ángel Porrúa, México, pp. 459–475. Also online at
  • Ordorika, Imanol and Pusser, Brian. (2007). "La máxima casa de estudios: The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México as a State-Building University." In Altbach, Philip y Balán, Jorge (Eds.) World-Class Worldwide: Transforming Research Universities in Asia and Latin America. Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 189–215. Also published in Chinese, in 2007, by Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press, pp. 161–181 and in Korean, in 2007, by Yoyoowahaksa, pp. 185–214.
  • Bensimon, Estela y Ordorika, Imanol. (2005). "Mexico's Estímulos: Faculty compensation based on piece-work." In Rhoades, A Robert and Torres, Carlos (Editors). The political economy of globalization: The University, State and Markets in the Americas. Stanford University Press.


  • Ordorika, Imanol (2008). "Los límites de la autonomía universitaria." Educación Superior: cifras y hechos, Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades, UNAM, no. 39-40, vol. 7, May–August, pp. 24–40.
  • Ordorika, Imanol (2007). "Universidades y globalización: tendencias hegemónicas y construcción de alternativas." Revista Educación Superior y Sociedad, IESALC-UNESCO, Numero 1, Año 12, Nueva Época, pp. 175–190.
  • Ordorika, Imanol (2006). “Educación superior y globalización; las universidades públicas frente a una nueva hegemonía”. Andamios: Revista de investigación social, no. 5, January 2007.
  • Ordorika, Imanol and Navarro, Mina Alejandra (2006). "Investigación académica y políticas públicas en la educación superior: El caso mexicano de pago por méritos". Revista del Centro de Estudios y Documentación sobre la Educación Superior Puertorriqueña, vol. I, no. 1, November 2006.
  • Rhoades, G., Maldonado-Maldonado, A., Ordorika, I., & Velásquez, M. (2004). "Imagining Alternativas to Global, Corporate, New Economy Academic Capitalism". Policy Futures in Education, II (2).
  • Ordorika, I. (2003). "The limits of university autonomy: Power and politics at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México." Higher Education: the international journal of higher education and educational planning, Vol. 46, Num. 3, pp. 361–388.
  • Ordorika, Imanol and Kenneth Kempner. (2003), "Valores en disputa e identidad en conflicto en la educación superior en México", Perfiles Educativos, vol. 25, no. 99, pp. 5–27.

External links[edit]