Spanish faculty receive grant to participate in consortium of Carnegie R1 Hispanic Serving Institutions

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021

Department of Modern Languages faculty Jinny Choi, Sonia Kania, Fernando Melero-García, and Ignacio Ruiz-Pérez, received a $2,000 mini-grant from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to evaluate Latino Studies within the context of heritage language and creative writing curriculum.

The project is part of a consortium titled “Crossing Latinidades” composed of sixteen universities dually designated as Carnegie R1: Doctoral Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI). The consortium is led by Amalia Pallares, associate chancellor and vice provost for Diversity at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Maria de los Angeles Torres, also from UIC, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Crossing Latinidades,” a multi-year project, was born from Pallares’s desire to ensure the growth and sustainability of Latino Studies in the United States, according to a UIC press release. 

“The growth of academic and publicly engaged scholarship in Latino Studies, which has been the outcome of strong student and faculty advocacy, has been hard-earned, but remains uneven,” said Pallares. “In this current pandemic situation, it is more important than ever not to lose the strengths that have been gained but to maintain the vitality of Latino Studies and the diversity of staff – especially in the humanities – and to develop creative approaches to sustaining and growing vital interdisciplinary research agendas.”

Pallares invited The University of Texas at Arlington to participate in a symposium in late October 2020 to explore ways in which the sixteen R1/HSI institutions can collaborate on teaching, research, cultural programming, and archives of Latino Humanities Studies.

Under the leadership of Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Maria Martínez-Cosio and Christian Zlolniski, director of UTA’s Center for Mexican American Studies, UTA will contribute to several initiatives launched from the October symposium, including a working group on Spanish as a Heritage Language curriculum and another dedicated to the intersection of creative writing and social justice.  In addition, UTA is participating in a Pipeline to the Academy effort to explore funding opportunities for supporting growth in graduate enrollment for Latino students, while creating exchange opportunities for research and postdocs amongst the 16 R1/HSI institutions.

“[Participation in] this initiative is strategic for our department to achieve its mission and vision, while positioning us as leaders in Latino Studies and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” said Ignacio Ruiz-Pérez, chair of the Department of Modern Languages. “The fact that our department is participating in two research groups within this important consortium of HSI’s increases the visibility of our department and the University across the nation.”

Other institutions represented in the “Crossing Latinidades” consortium include City University of New York Graduate Center, Texas Tech University, University of Arizona, The University of California System campuses, and The University of Texas at El Paso.

The data gathered by Modern Languages faculty and Graduate Research Assistant Deborah Rodríguez will inform reports to be shared with collaborating institutions. Once initial reports have been presented, the consortium will apply for a larger grant from the Mellon Foundation to propel the next phase of their work.

“At the end of the planning year, we aim to be in a position to launch a call for collaborative research, teaching, public scholarship, and shared resource creation proposals that would put the multi-year project, ‘Crossing Latinidades,’ in motion,” Pallares said.