KU News Release

Nov. 16, 2011
Contact: Kristi Henderson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 785-864-3663

KU Center of Latin American Studies celebrates 50 years

LAWRENCE — The nationally recognized University of Kansas Center of Latin American Studies this week will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The center invites all faculty, students, alumni and friends to attend its 50th anniversary conference Saturday, Nov. 19, centering on Latin American Studies: Past, Present and Future in Global Context.

Panelists will discuss topics that include career choices in Latin American studies, the field research experience and the future of Latin American Studies in a global context. Featured panelists include alumni, KU faculty and faculty from universities in Latin America with ties to the center. The keynote speaker is KU alumna Maria Eugenia Bozzoli, who is emeritus professor and vice chancellor at the University of Costa Rica.

Alumni have also been invited to visit a class while on campus for the celebration. A complete list of activities can be found online.

The interdisciplinary center was established in 1961 as the Latin American Area Program. A KU Today article from that autumn 50 years ago highlighted the importance of KU relations with Latin America. The establishment of the new program was designed to equip KU students with knowledge to face political, economic, sociological and geographical realities of the late 20th century. The center still strives to serve those ideals, now with Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education

“That vision continues to inform the center’s mission to foster our students’ intellectual development and provide them with advanced language and area studies training, including study and research abroad, so that they can pursue successful, satisfying careers as teachers, scholars, and business and government professionals,” said Geraldo U. de Sousa, acting director of the Center.

As early as the 1940s, KU has consistently been one of the pioneering institutions for Latin American studies and began sending students to Mexico City for study abroad in the 1950s. Under Chancellor Franklin Murphy and Dean George Waggoner, KU was awarded prestigious grants from the Carnegie and Ford foundations to develop the interdisciplinary foundation for a Latin American studies center.

Since geography professor John P. Augelli was appointed the center’s first director in 1961, the program has continued to grow and expand. KU’s strong ties to the University of Costa Rica have continued, and the center’s connections have expanded in Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. The center has also seen an increase in the number of students choosing to major and minor in the program.

The center has been designated a Comprehensive National Resource Center on Latin America and funded by the U.S. Department of Education in 1983-1988, 1994-2006 and 2010-2014. In addition, the center has been awarding prestigious graduate Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, since 1976.

The center facilitates graduate research at home and abroad, sponsors events related to the region and develops outreach resources for area educators. More than 100 core, affiliate and research faculty members associated with the center teach and research Latin American topics through a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary prisms, and mentor students interested in the region.

The Center of Latin American Studies is part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The U.S. Department of Education has recognized excellence in international education in the College’s area studies centers with funding from 2010 to 2014. Four international area studies centers received National Resource Center funding, and five centers received Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship funding. Only seven of the 50 universities receiving FLAS funding have a larger number of funded centers than KU.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

kunews@ku.edu | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045

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