As Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies I am excited to share our Center’s accomplishments this past year. The 2017-2018 academic year included a series of outstanding achievements as we became the new Headquarters of the Inter University Program on Latino Research [IUPLR]. The IUPLR is the leading national consortium of 26 university-related research centers that focus on issues impacting U.S. Latinos. CMAS and the University of Houston will serve as the host institution of the IUPLR for the next five years [2018-2022].
Despite the proliferation of Latino studies, only a little over 1% of all the PhD’s granted from 2011-2015 had Latinos as a subject. Funding levels for research on Latinos is extremely low. A 2012 report by the Foundation Center and Hispanics in Philanthropy found that foundation giving to organizations that benefitted Latinos actually dropped from 1.2% in 1999 to .90 % in 2009, this included research about Latinos. A recent report states that the numbers have remained relatively the same. Public universities, where almost all our centers are situated, are increasingly facing budgetary constraints. To address this, the IUPLR is launching an effort to develop a national research agenda informed by multiple disciplines and regions. Our goal is to push the envelope of scholarship to address the issues impacting Latino communities across the nation.
CMAS is also serving as the host for the IUPLR’s signature conference, Latino Art Now! Started in 2005, the LAN! has evolved to become the nation’s premier forum for visual artists, art professionals, educators, scholars, critics and art dealers, to explore the contours of Latino art, its future directions, and its relationship to contemporary American visual culture. The conference seeks to advance understanding, awareness and education of the value of Latino art as integral to American art and visual culture. As part of this event, the LAN is also sponsoring the Spring of Latino Art in Houston with more than 35 participating museums, galleries and community organizations. CMAS received a City Initiatives grant to support this effort.
We are also proud to acknowledge our Academic Achievers Program was once again chosen as a finalist by Excelencia in Education. Our UH-AAP program was one of 6 finalists [of 139 undergraduate programs]. We are proud to be considered among the best programs and universities in the nation that promote the success of Latino students.
Our Center remains committed to academic excellence and a set of shared values, including engaged scholarship, respect for diversity and inclusion, civic participation and the pursuit of social justice. I am proud to present to you the work we have done and will continue to engage to serve the Latino and Houston community.