In 1995, Professor Compitello moved to the University of Arizona as Professor and Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, a headship held for twenty-three years. In Tucson, his work took another important turn into spatial theory and urban studies, what some have called a cultural geography approach to cultural production. Since 1999, his research and teaching on the city, most especially, Madrid, has inspired many in Latin American and Peninsular literary and cultural studies to move their work in the direction of cultural geography. His many articles, his co-edited book Madrid: De Fortunata a la M:40: Cien años de cultura urbana (2003) and numerous other publications are examples of rigorous scholarship that points to a curious mind and a healthy allergy to conventional disciplinary constraints.
In Arizona, Professor Compitello launched the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. Since 1997 this journal has published cutting-edge research and was one of the first journals in Hispanic Studies to explicitly open the disciplinary doors widely and do so for all areas of what one might call a Hispanic world. Many scholars wanting to do a different type of literary and cultural criticism found a home in what has become one of the flagship journals in this field.
This engagement with the field beyond his own research characterizes his long-standing committee work and leadership roles with the ADFL (the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages) and the MLA. His professional contributions also include service on the editorial boards of journals such as Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, Revista de ALCES XXI: Journal of Contemporary Spanish Literature & Film, MVM: Cuadernos de Estudios de Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Hispanic Studies Review, Letras Hispanas and the Palgrave Macmillan Series on Hispanic Urban Cultural Studies.
Professor Compitello's dedication to his students and to innovative teaching is also formidable; he has inspired and guided students of Latin American, Latino, and Peninsular literature and culture at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, directing over forty doctoral dissertations. The citation for his 2016 Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession from the ADFL calls him "one of the legendary mentors of the profession, nurturing his own students with extraordinary acumen and contributing to the professionalization of students and junior faculty members beyond his own campus." One of the best places to absorb this is in Capital Inscriptions: Essays on Hispanic Literature, Film and Urban Studies, the 2012 volume edited in his honor.
As a teacher and as an administrator, Professor Compitello, to again quote the 2016 award citation from the ADFL, "has expanded and reshaped the traditional language and literature curriculum toward a new and multidisciplinary, cultural definition." In the process he built one of the most distinguished and largest comprehensive programs for the study of Hispanic languages, literatures, and cultures in the United States. His leadership in this area has included extensive collaborations with local K-12 and community college instructors and with colleagues across campus, around the country, and around the world. He has been a long-time champion of international education, including overseas study opportunities for students in Europe and Latin America, and has established joint graduate degree options with international partners in Chile, Italy, and Spain.
Professor Compitello has been honored on numerous occasions for his accomplishments and contributions to the academy. In addition to the award from the ADFL mentioned above, these accolades include fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the US-Spain Joint Commission for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and from the Government of Italy. He has also held visiting positions at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Spanish Summer School at Middlebury College, the University of Valladolid, and the University of Verona.