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UT Arlington professor's new book chronicles Chicanos' impact on higher education in Texas

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Media Contact: Bridget Lewis, Office:817-272-3317, Cell:214-577-9094, blewis@uta.edu

News Topics: education, faculty, history, immigration, liberal arts, politics, students

Youth, farm workers and women led the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s that demanded social change, enhanced education and economic opportunities. It was the student protests and demands for Chicano studies and Chicano teachers, however, that resulted in more Chicano high school graduates enrolling in colleges and the hiring of Chicano professors to help train such teachers.

For the past 40 years, the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education has been at the forefront of advocacy to improve opportunity in higher education for Americans of Mexican origin.

That crusade and the activism that the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education displayed are chronicled in the new book, “Images of America: The Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education,” by José Gutiérrez, a UT Arlington political science professor, attorney and longtime member of TACHE.

“This project was a labor of love,” said Gutiérrez, who co-authored the photo-laden political book with his wife, Natalia Verjat Gutiérrez, a professor of languages at Tarrant County College and president of the TACHE chapter on the Northeast campus.

“We’ve been involved with TACHE for 40 years helping to educate legislators in Austin on the issues of concern to us before every session. The organization has been supportive of students in pursuit of graduate degrees and was at one time the only source of money for them at that level. Many members wanted a book so we finally decided to get one done,” said Gutiérrez, who joined the UT Arlington Department of Political Science in 1992.

The 128-page book contains nearly 200 photographs, maps and images from the archives at the University of Texas at Austin. They range from a poster promoting a documentary about the banning of the Mexican American Studies program at a college in Arizona to photos of high-ranking Mexican Americans in higher education such as Raymund Paredes, Texas Higher Education commissioner, and Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., University of Texas System chancellor.

Verjat Gutiérrez said that after 40 years of hard work, annual conferences, advocating for our students and faculty, educating our legislators, TACHE realized that documenting the journey was equally important.

“This was an overdue and necessary step to educate the public on our history,” Verjat Gutiérrez said. “It was a laborious effort especially since the photographic material was hard to retrieve and it was rather difficult to properly identify all the faces through four decades. Nevertheless, it was a rewarding experience. I strongly believe in TACHE’s mission and working with my husband was a journey of discovery.”

The Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education was founded in 1975 by a group of junior faculty at the University of Texas at Austin determined to improve opportunity in higher education for Americans of Mexican origin. The few Chicanos in higher education at the national and state levels sought to institute Chicano studies programs and curriculums.

TACHE offered a forum for them to bring about change. They organized a national convention that attracted major speakers, documentary and filmmakers, authors and entertainers. They also developed Noticiario, an official newsletter that incorporated the group’s logo symbolizing Chicanos’ Mayan, Aztec and Mexican heritage. 

“My wife and I still proudly call ourselves Chicanos and coined a phrase for readers of the book: ‘Share the history, feel the pride,’” Gutiérrez said.

“Images of America: The Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education” is available at the UT Arlington Bookstore, 400 Spaniolo Drive. Copies can also be ordered at www.arcadiapublishing.com.

José Gutiérrez is one of the talented professors at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of more than 33,300 students and 2,200 faculty members in the epicenter of North Texas. It is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. Total research expenditures reached almost $78 million last year. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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