From the Director
This is the last time I will address you as the Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies since I will be retiring in August of this year.
I have served as the Director of CMAS for 34 of my 40 years with UH. In 1974, I was the first Mexican American professor hired in the Sociology department. While there, I held a joint appointment in Mexican American Studies where I was responsible for developing new courses, serving on its committees, and being a liaison with the Houston community. As a native Houstonian and a UH graduate, I was elated to be working at my alma mater and being involved with Mexican American Studies.
When I became the Director of CMAS in 1980, the Center had limited resources. But with the assistance of legislators, community leaders, students, colleagues, corporations, and many others, we were able to secure a financial base that enabled us to become one of the premier Centers in our field in the United States. None of our services would have been possible without the assistance of a wide range of supporters who believe in our mission. I am truly grateful for their assistance. Their tangible and intangible support has allowed us to achieve excellence in our endeavors.
As I review our groundbreaking efforts I take pride in what we have accomplished together. We offer a minor in Mexican American Studies. We administer an undergraduate recruitment and retention program that has won accolades from the State of Texas for its success in graduating low income students. More than 30,000 students have visited our campus through our college career days. We offer graduate fellowships to students seeking advanced degrees who may become the next generations of scholars in our field. We developed a Visiting Scholars Program that fosters research, publications and the possibility of employment at the University of Houston. CMAS established the UH series in Mexican American Studies that publishes books that focus on Houston and Texas. We host annual lectures or conferences on a wide range of relevant topics and are a source of information for local, state, national and at times international media. Importantly, we have also secured endowments that are providing support for our activities and will continue to do so in perpetuity.
The Center has also engaged in research. During the 1990’s we conducted a series of exit polls aimed at highlighting the Mexican American voter in comparison to other groups. Some of the polls were conducted in contentious local races. These surveys became popular with the media given that no one else in city was taking an in-depth look at our community’s vote. CMAS also surveyed the relationship between Hispanics and African Americans that resulted in the book Black Brown Relations and Stereotypes. In collaboration with HISD one of our Visiting Scholars conducted a drop out study. Others wrote books about Houston which are published