Al Camarillo was appointed to the faculty in the Department of History at Stanford University in 1975 after receiving his Ph.D. from UCLA. He has published and co-edited eight books and over three dozen articles dealing with the experiences of Mexican Americans and other racial and immigrant groups in American cities. He is widely regarded as one of the founders of the field of Mexican American history and Chicano Studies. Over the course of his career, Camarillo has received many awards and fellowships. Fellowships include a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship; he was also a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, The Huntington Library, and at the Stanford Humanities Center. His awards for teaching and service at Stanford are numerous. He is the only faculty member in the history of Stanford University to receive the six highest awards for excellence in teaching, service to undergraduate education and Stanford alumni, and university-related public service.
In addition to teaching and research, he has served in several administrative positions: founding Director of the Stanford Center for Chicano Research (1980-1985); founding Executive Director of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (1985-1988); Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduates Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences (1991-1993); founding Director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (1996-2002). He is a past President of the American Historical Association-Pacific Coast Branch (2006) and of the Organization of American Historians (2012-13), the largest association in the nation for U.S. historians.