The Benson Latin American Collection (BLAC) and the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS) are joining efforts in an inventive approach to achieving common goals.
Effective Sept. 1, the two distinguished Latin American keystone institutions at The University of Texas at Austin will integrate their respective staffs and missions in a three-year plan that places them under a sole directorship.
Dr. Charles Hale, who has served as director of LLILAS since 2009, will helm the LLILAS-BLAC effort to unite the institutions’ student programs, research and scholarly resources related to Latin America. Dr. Juliet Hooker will continue as associate director of LLILAS, and Dr. David Block will become associate director of BLAC.
“Especially in this era of budget scarcity, it is exciting and promising for a university-based initiative to enter a phase of expansion and transformation, raising two venerable institutions to new heights of excellence, while at the same time conserving resources, and taking full advantage of untapped synergies,” Hale says of the collaboration.
The plan exemplifies four key priorities of current university-wide directives on enhancing the benefits of higher education.
- Hemispheric collaboration. As practices that emphasize horizontal and reciprocal relationships with Latin American colleagues and peer institutions become the prevailing standard, LLILAS-BLAC will lead this collaborative reinvention in the field of Latin American studies.
- Scholarly integration. BLAC scholarly resources will be developed through increased dialogue with faculty, graduate students and visiting scholars, the principal users of the collection, and faculty consultations will be used to enhance and expand the scholarly program at the BLAC.
- Public engagement. LLILAS-BLAC will increase its presence to sectors beyond the university by providing educational opportunities, outreach programs and awareness of its work and resources to the larger public.
- Development. Through a focused effort based on shared goals, this combined site of Latin American studies will attract new resources to support the programs and collections benefitting the global study of Latin America.
“We’re enthusiastic about the prospects for this collective enterprise,” says University of Texas Libraries Director Dr. Fred Heath. “By closely aligning academic teaching and scholarly research with the resources of the university’s collections, we think we’ve hit upon a novel structure that is informed by the strategic goals of the university.”
A program review by the College of Liberal Arts and the University of Texas Libraries at the close of the pilot period will determine the future course of the venture.
“The pilot between LLILAS and BLAC is a natural and innovative way to further strengthen our premier Latin American studies initiatives offered by the university,” says Dr. Randy L. Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “I expect to see many positive outcomes in the area of scholarly collaboration and public engagement. I’m excited to see the future possibilities unfold.”