UMass Amherst to Honor Latin American Leaders

AMHERST, Mass. - A convocation honoring four Latin American leaders and two University staff members will be held Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts. It is free and open to the public. The event is part of a two-day conference sponsored by the new Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies being held Nov. 20-21 at the Campus Center.

Chancellor David K. Scott will host the convocation, "Al Nuevo Mundo," celebrating creation of the new center and the 25th anniversary of the University’s Bilingual Collegiate Program (BCP), an academic support program for bilingual students pursuing undergraduate degrees. Honorary degrees will be awarded to: Ramon de la Pena, president of one of Mexico’s leading universities, the Instituto Technologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey; Antonia Pantoja, founder of the Puerto Rican education advocacy group ASPIRA; Luis Perez, the first Puerto Rican named to a judgeship in Massachusetts; and Larissa Lomnitz, an anthropologist who has published several studies of social class structures in Latin America.

Also at the convocation, two University staff members, Pauline Collins, retired librarian who was the Latin American bibliographer at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library for many years, and Benjamin Rodriguez, director of the BCP since 1974, will each receive a Chancellor’s Medal. It is the highest honor given by the campus for service to the University. Latin American music will be performed by UMass professors Estela Olevsky and Pauline Stark. A reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Campus Center Auditorium follows the convocation.

The conference, "Space, Place, and Nation: Reconstructing Neo-Liberalism in the Americas," will feature a series of panels, in both English and Spanish, that explore the environmental, political, and cultural consequences of market reforms and globalization in the Americas. Panelists will include renowned scholars and activists from Latin America, Europe, and the United States, including University faculty.

The conference is co-sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Latin American Studies Consortium of New England, the UMass geosciences deapartment, and the center. Other events scheduled in conjunction with the conference and convocation include a photo exhibition at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, titled "Vision Feminina: Mujeres Mayas de Chiapas (Feminine Vision: Mayan Women of Chiapas)" on loan from the Indigenous Photography Archives, Chiapas, Mexico, and a dance featuring Orquestra Versatil on Fri., Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium.

The new Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, which was approved by the University last summer, has evolved from the former Latin American Studies Program. With its name changed and its scope broadened, the center continues its participation in the Latin American Consortium of New England, which is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, and which also includes the University of Connecticut, Brown and Yale universities. All events are free and open to the public.