UH Center for Mexican American Studies Turns 40

Center Ushered in Visiting Scholars and Academic Achievement Programs

Born from the break out days of the early 1960s, raised in the struggle and strife of the 1970s and always advocating for scholars and scholarship, the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. 

“The Center for Mexican American Studies has been very fortunate to have committed people working on its behalf, people who feel that they are part of a larger movement to improve the educational circumstances of our community,” said Tatcho Mindiola, professor and director of CMAS.  “Their dedication cannot be over estimated.”

The Center for Mexican American Studies was established in 1972 as an interdisciplinary academic program focusing on the Mexican American and broader Latino experience in the United States. With an aim to advance knowledge, promote critical thinking and foster the value of service to the community, CMAS has a broad spectrum of public and scholarly programs—the Visiting Scholars Program, the Graduate Fellowship and the Academic Achievers Program.  It also offers students the opportunity to minor in Mexican American Studies. 

“Members from the Mexican American Youth organization, a student group on campus, wrote the proposal, sat on the university committee and lobbied the administration to establish the Center for Mexican American Studies,” he said.  “Many doubted that it would survive, but the skeptics were proved wrong.  Forty years later we are not only still here, but thriving.”

Today, CMAS has recruited 34 Visiting Scholars from across the country to pursue research on the Latino experience, assisted more than 40 graduate fellows to hone their research, and mentored hundreds of at-risk high school students to become the first in their families to graduate from college.

Housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, CMAS has evolved into an academic unit with several major components: teaching, research and publications, recruitment and retention, leadership training, academic advising, and community service.  Speaker series and lectures on Mexican American studies, history, writers and culture are planned for this anniversary year. 

“Although we’ve made important strides, we still have a ways to go before we achieve greatness,” Mindiola said.  “Central to our long-term success is funding.  Our established endowment begins to ensure our long-term viability to significantly raise the educational level of our community.”

For more information on the Center for Mexican American Studies, visit http://www.class.uh.edu/CMAS/index.asp

Listen to the UH Moment:

Academic Achievers Program: http://app1.kuhf.org/articles/1276638716-UH-Moment-Student-Leadership.html

Visiting Scholars Program: http://app1.kuhf.org/articles/1317323688-UH-Moment-Smuggling.html

MAYO’s Chicano Mural: http://app1.kuhf.org/articles/1328301067-UH-Moment-Chicano-Mural.html