A Brief History of Latino Studies at Indiana University

The Latino Studies Program is the fruition of more than three decades of student activism and faculty engagement at Indiana University. In 1971, Latino students and concerned faculty members began to denounced ongoing impediments to Latinos in higher education, including racial inequality, cultural insensitivity and underrepresentation.  Responding to their concerns, in 1973 Indiana University created the Office of Latino Affairs offered services and programs to the Latino community, and served as an advocate for Latina and Latino students and faculty.  That office closed its doors in 1999. 

Latino scholarship at Indiana University advanced significantly in the 1970s. In 1973, Dr. Luis Dávila (IU Bloomington) and Dr. Nicolas Kanellos (IU Northwest) jointly published La Revista Chicano-Riqueña. In 1976, Professor Dávila inaugurated the interdisciplinary Chicano-Riqueño Studies Program, dedicated to the study of Puerto Rican, Chicano, and other Spanish-speaking communities in the United States.  That same year saw the first issue of Chiricú, a multilingual journal of Latina and Latino literature and literary criticism, which continues to be published annually.

Another valuable resource that emerged from student and faculty activism was the Latino Cultural Center, also known as "La Casa." Since 1973, La Casa has been extremely active in fostering a sense of community among Latinos, in promoting Latino recruitment and retention, and in creating a broad awareness about Latino issues. Under the direction of Lillian Casillas, La Casa offers a rich year-long program of events that are open to students, faculty and the community.

When the Latino Studies program opened its doors under the direction of Dr. Jorge Chapa in 1999, its mission was to offer Indiana University students an array of courses in various disciplines, focusing on the history, culture and social condition of Latino communities in the United States.  This objective has remained constant as the program has evolved and as student enrollment has grown. Professor Chapa worked closely with IU's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) to institute "Masters Degree Area" in Latino and Latin American Studies.  He also designed our undergraduate minor in Latino Studies, before moving on to the Univerisity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in July, 2006.

Dr. John Nieto-Phillips, Associate Professor of History, was named Interim Director in July, 2006. He launched the program's new undergraduate minor, as well as its new website, in August, 2006.

The Latino Studies Program would like to thank Dr. Alberto Torchinksy, Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Hiring and Support, whose meticuluous history of the Office of Latino Affairs provided much of the information above.