Welcome from the New LAS Director Marcela Vásquez-León

Welcome Letter from New LAS Director

January 13, 2016

Dear LAS students, faculty, staff, and friends,

As we enter the New Year, I am very honored to welcome you back as the new Director of the Center for Latin
American Studies. I want to thank everyone who has welcomed me into this new position. I know that with your
support and collaboration I will be able to contribute to placing CLAS as a strategic unit within the University and
advancing the Center into a top position as a nationally ranked area studies program. I want to also thank Dr. Linda
Green for her leadership and work as Director of the Center over the past five years.

As a unit with a 40-year history on campus, CLAS has developed important strengths that derive from its interdisciplinary
nature, its emphasis on language immersion and fieldwork training, as well as its rigorous academic
and intellectual approaches. The Center also has a large number of scholars, including close to 150 affiliated faculty
from across campus, whose ongoing commitment to the Center has been crucial. As the new CLAS Director I plan
to use and improve these capacities in order to enhance the significance and visibility of our small interdisciplinary
program and convey the importance of the Latin American region across campus. I will also put a great deal of
effort into leveraging resources from federal and private funding agencies that will allow the development of new
programs and enhance the quality and reputation of existing programs.

Looking back into 2015, I want to highlight some of the accomplishments and activities of our core faculty. Dr. Liz
Oglesby won the SBS Excellence in Upper Division Teaching award. She also revamped her Guatemala Study
Abroad Program, now called Programa Internacional de Educación y Acción Social (IDEAS). Since the summer
2015 the program has recruited over 30 students for the summer and current academic year. In 2015, Dr. Margaret
Wilder became a member of the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, an independent federal advisory committee
that advises the president and congress on good neighbor practices along the US border with Mexico.
We will miss Dr. Jennifer Cyr and Dr. Matias Bianchi this semester at they spend their time in Argentina where Dr.
Cyr is taking her junior sabbatical and Dr. Bianchi will continue his work as consultant for the Organization of
American States, providing strategic advice and analysis to the office of the Secretary General on how the OAS can
respond to the realities, expectations and needs of the hemisphere’s 21st century society.

I am looking forward to an exciting spring semester. I would like to welcome anthropologist Dr. Antonio B. da
Silva who will be sharing his expertise on Brazil and will be working with our graduate and undergraduate students.
The Center will also be collaborating with our Visiting Scholar, Edgar Monreal, to promote a relationship with the
Centro Coordinador y Difusor de Estudios Latinoamericanos, an international center housed at the Universidad
Nacional Autónoma de Mexico.

We are working with other units on campus to begin our speaker series and coordinate a number of exciting events
for 2016. We hope to see you at some of our events, including the Latin American Student Leader Showcase,
Tucson Festival of Books and Tucson Cine Mexico 2016!
I thank you for your support, welcome your ideas and look forward to a fruitful collaboration.


Marcela Vásquez-León
Director, Center for Latin American Studies

Published Date: 

01/14/2016 - 10:27

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