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CMAS director Zlolniski appointed to key state committee on Mexican-American studies at Texas colleges, universities

Monday, February 22, 2016 • Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

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Christian Zlolniski, associate professor of sociology and anthropology and director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington, has been appointed to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Mexican American Studies Field of Study Advisory Committee.  

Christian Zlolniski, associate professor of sociology and anthropology and director for the UTA Center for Mexican American Studies.

The 10-member committee will work to identify the block of courses which may be transferred to a general academic teaching institution and must be substituted for that institution's lower division requirements for the Mexican-American Studies degree program into which the student transfers.

Zlolniski is one of four faculty members on the committee from a University of Texas System school. The others are from UT Austin, UT El Paso and UT San Antonio. One member represents Texas A&M University, and five committee members represent community colleges.

Elisabeth Cawthon, associate dean of the UTA College of Liberal Arts, which includes the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Center for Mexican American Studies, commended Zlolniski and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on united efforts to better serve the educational needs of Texas.

“The work of this committee will, no doubt, lead to successes for the THECB’s 60x30TX plan,” Cawthon said, noting the state’s higher education strategic plan that calls for 60 percent of adults, ages 25 to 34, to earn a college degree or certificate by 2030. “A better educated society will be better equipped to meet the demands of the workforce and answer other critical challenges of the 21st century.”

Zlolniski said he is humbled and honored by the recognition as it provides an opportunity to share his experience as an educator in the field of Mexican American studies along with the distinguished members of the THECB committee. 

“The work of the committee will consolidate Mexican American studies in Texas,” Zlolniski said. “At a time when our state has an increasing diverse population, it is more important than ever to foster greater understanding of all groups and cultures, particularly Mexican-Americans. The curriculum in Mexican American studies will also help educate students about the history, needs and strengths of our growing Latino population.”

Zlolniski’s appointment comes as UTA experiences growth in its undergraduate Hispanic enrollment and in program offerings connected with the Hispanic community. Currently, about 28 percent of UTA’s undergraduate population is Hispanic. Such strong numbers factored significantly into UTA achieving status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution according to Department of Education criteria in 2014. That year, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities named UTA its Outstanding HACU-Member Institution for the school’s contributions to Hispanic higher education. Earlier this month, General Motors partnered with the League of United Latin American Citizens and Zlolniski’s CMAS to open a new technology center at UTA.

“We are tremendously proud to see Dr. Zlolniski recognized in this way and applaud his willingness to serve in this key, statewide position,” said Linda Johnsrud, UTA interim provost for academic affairs. “The work that he has done on behalf of the Center for Mexican American Studies, and what he will accomplish in Austin, underscore his commitment to our students and those that will follow.”

60X30 North Texas at UTA

UTA and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will jointly host the April 5 conference: "Access, Success, Texas."

The event marks the first comprehensive regional gathering of:

  • North Texas leaders to discuss ideas on how to meet the targets of the state’s 60x30TX educational goals;
  • Programs that have been effective to date;
  • Potential pathways for more collaboration among all educational organizations.

“60x30 North Texas” will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, at UTA’s College Park Center, 600 S. Center St.

Zlolniski’s work is also representative of the University’s commitment to addressing issues of economic, cultural and social environments, as outlined in UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020.

Zlolniski joined UTA in 2001 as an assistant professor and served as a research associate of the Center for Mexican American Studies for more than 10 years before being appointed director in 2013. He previously spent seven years as a researcher and social studies professor at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico. He also served as a fellow researcher for two years in the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Zlolniski earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain. He holds a master’s and doctoral degree in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Center for Mexican American Studies was founded in 1993 by a legislative mandate promoted by Mexican American members of the Texas Legislature and their supporters. CMAS is an academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts dedicated to enhancing the study and understanding of Mexican American and other Latino populations in the United States.

The center administers an 18-hour academic minor in Mexican American Studies and annually awards three scholarships: the Manuel Gamio Scholarship; the Brandenburg Scholarship for Mexican American Studies Minors, and the Brandenburg Scholarship in Latino Studies in the College of Liberal Arts.  

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie “highest research activity” institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at