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Hispanic Heritage Month on the Forty Acres

A roundup of profiles and news that celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and the accomplishments of Hispanic and Latino Longhorns

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Today marks the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Together with the rest of the nation and state, the UT Austin community celebrated and spent the month learning about the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Longhorns. Below are just a few of the many pieces of news, achievements and events we highlighted from this year:

How UT Earned the Seal of Excelencia

UT Austin Earns Seal of Excelencia for Serving Latino Students

UT Austin is one of just five universities to receive the Seal of Excelencia from Excelencia in Education, a national organization committed to the advancement of Latino student success in higher education. The rigorous selection process recognizes universities where Latino students thrive and asks for five years of data across key categories: enrollment, retention, financial support and representation. Read more about this recognition here.

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UT Hits Record Undergraduate Hispanic Student Enrollment

UT Austin hit a new record percentage of Hispanic undergraduate student enrollment. By doing so, UT surpassed 25% Hispanic undergraduate enrollment for the second year in a row, qualifying the university as a Hispanic Serving Institution. Hispanic student enrollment at UT has steadily increased during the past decade. The Austin American-Statesman recently wrote about this achievement. 

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This Research Group is Working to Restore Historic Mexican American Cemetery

A historic Mexican American cemetery in East Austin is currently at risk of being removed by development. (Re)Claiming Memories Research Lab, an interdisciplinary group of graduate students led by School of Architecture graduate student Diana Hernandez, is working to research, preserve and restore the cemetery. The Austin American-Statesman wrote a piece on Hernandez and other students working to preserve Latino history, and KUT recently wrote about the group’s efforts to save the cemetery.

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Ramón Rivera-Servera Appointed as College of Fine Arts Dean

The university named alumnus Ramón Rivera-Servera as dean of the College of Fine Arts earlier this year – the first Latino dean of the college. He is an interdisciplinary scholar with focuses in creative ethnography, new work development in performance and other ephemeral art forms and Black and Latino arts and cultures. Read more about him and his vision for the college here.

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One of Frida Kahlo’s Best-Known Works on Display at Harry Ransom Center

One of Frida Kahlo’s most iconic paintings, an untitled self-portrait known as “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird,” is on display at the Harry Ransom Center. The oil-on-canvas painting from 1940 is one of Kahlo’s 55 self-portraits. Kahlo was a Mexican painter and is considered one of the country’s greatest artists, known mostly for her portraits, self-portraits and nature-inspired paintings. This video offers a closer look at the painting.

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University Celebrates 50 Years of the Latino Studies Program

The UT Tower glowed burnt orange and displayed a “50” on its sides on Sunday, Sept. 26, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Latino Studies at the university. The Tower lighting coincided with the birthday of alumnus Gloria Anzaldúa, who became an internationally recognized cultural theorist, creative writer and scholar. Over the course of 50 years, Latino Studies at UT has grown into a nationally recognized powerhouse of Latino thought and advocacy.

 

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Latina Historian Wins MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’

Monica Muñoz Martinez, a racial violence historian, was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, often referred to as the “genius grant.” Martinez’s research brought long-obscured and untold histories of racial violence along the U.S.-Mexico border to light. Her work combines traditional archival research with oral histories and memorabilia. Read more here.

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Latin American Studies Undergraduate Selected as a United Nations Fellow

Valeria Colunga, an undergraduate Latin American Studies major, was one of eight students selected by the United Nations as a 2021 Next Generation fellow. Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Colunga worked with the other fellows to draft a report that outlines a multilateral system to address climate change, job creation and education. Read an interview with Colunga about her work here.

 

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Hispanic Faculty and Staff Association Leads Efforts to Make UT Inclusive, Equitable

The Hispanic Faculty and Staff Association is a campus-wide organization that is leading efforts to make the university a more inclusive, equitable place for Hispanic and Latino faculty, staff and students. Their mission is to promote understanding and respect of the Hispanic cultures present on campus through advocacy, education and service. This article from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement profiles just a few of the organization’s influential leaders.