I regret that Pablo Palominos and Elizabeth Monge felt that they had to write letters to the Star to express their dissatisfaction with the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. If they would have spoken with me, I believe that I could have allayed their concerns. Mr. Palominos argues that the Center has de-emphasized programs in Latino Studies in favor of those in Latin American Studies, and Ms. Monge complains that not enough courses eligible for the minor are currently being offered (especially in literature).
First, the Center does not hire faculty, departments do. Nevertheless, the Center was instrumental in hiring its assistant director, Mike Fraga, who specializes in Latino Studies. Next year, Mr. Fraga will teach full time in the history department and the Center will recruit, with the cooperation of participating departments, a new assistant director with a research specialization in Latino Studies. I favor hiring additional faculty in the field of Latino Studies, but each department has its own hiring priorities and cannot be told what to do. I am encouraged by the fact that several departments cooperated with the Center when we hired an assistant director in 1990, and that the Law School has worked hard to recruit Latino faculty.
I should also add that several faculty members on campus are interested in Latino Studies, although this may not be their principal field of research. For example, Professor Jorge Jeria (adult education) is interested in adult education programs for Spanish speakers in the United States and Latin America, Professor Richard Altenbaugh (history) is researching the educational experiences of Chicanos and Italian-Americans, and Professor Monique LeMaitre (foreign languages and literatures) has taught Chicano literature.
Second, the Center only controls one course in the curriculum: ILAS 100, Introduction to Latin American Studies. We offered this course in the Fall and will offer it again next Fall. All other courses eligible for the minor are scheduled by departments. Naturally, we would like to see a large number of these courses offered each semester. This year there are seven courses being offered that qualify for the minor, not six as stated by Ms. Monge. In addition, there are parallel courses not formally listed as qualifying for the minor, such as special studies and courses offered abroad, that can qualify for the minor with my signature. I should also add that this semester three professors of Spanish (LeMaitre, Harrison, and Jagoe) are on leave, and another is recovering from a heart attack. I suspect that the Spanish division would prefer to offer more literature courses, as a rule, but it has extensive responsibilities to offer courses in Spanish grammar. In a normal semester, departments schedule more than seven courses that qualify for the minor.
I should also mention that the Center has dedicated considerable time and resources to supporting speakers who specialize in Latino Studies. For example, last year the Center brought Professor Tino Villanueva of Boston University to campus to speak on Chicano poetry and to recite his poetry. The Center also co-organized the campus visit Cesar Chavez to speak on the adverse impact of pesticides on Chicano farm workers, and cosponsored the debate between Linda Chavez and Cordelia Candelaria over whether or not English should be our national language.
This year the Center sponsored a lecture by Dr. Antonio Rios-Bustamante on “Latino Applied History Programs and the Interpretation of American History,” and a seminar on “Latinos in the Hollywood Film Industry, 1911-1945.” We also sponsored a major concert and have organized other events for the spring of interest to the Latino community. Naturally, our ability to sponsor additional events this year is limited because of severe budget cuts, but we still hope to do something to help with Hispanic Month.
Michael J. Gonzales
Center for Latino and
Latin American Studies