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UT-Austin Creates Major In Mexican American and Latino Studies

UT-Austin Creates Major In Mexican American and Latino Studies

Posted by Liliana Castaño on September 10, 2014

Almost four out of ten Texas residents is Latino, and Hispanics are an integral part of the region's demographic, cultural and political heritage. Yet Mexican American and Latino studies has not been an academic major offered at one the state's flagship universities - until now.

The University of Texas at Austin is unveiling changes to its Mexican American Studies program. The existing Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) will split into an academic department and a center for programming and outreach activities. The new Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies will offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs this fall followed by doctoral degrees in the near future.

Previously, a student could take Mexican American studies courses at CMAS as part of another major, such as history. Gabriel Solis, 28, who graduated from UT-Austin several years ago, said he was one of those students who would have wanted to major in this field of study.

“My experience as an undergrad and as a grad student was frustrating at times,” he said. “There seemed to besuch battles for funding for the Center for Mexican American Studies, and that was disillusioning… I almost felt pushed out of studying my culture and history, because the outside climate was so hostile,” said Solis.

University officials said CMAS has been at the forefront of Mexican American studies, and the changes should make the programs even stronger.

“Establishing an academic Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies will ensure that UT is the best place for Latino studies in the United States,” said Bill Powers, president of the UT-Austin, in a statement.

Founded in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin has about 24,000 faculty and staff, serving over 50,000 students. In Fall 2012 its student body was 18.4 percent Hispanic.

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