Friday, September 16, 2016

Celebrating Latino Heritage Month at Mizzou!

Come visit our exhibit in the Lower Lair of the MU Student Center!

Mizzou celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15- October 15 every year.  A week celebrating Hispanic heritage was established in 1968 under U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and was later expanded in 1988 under U.S. President Ronald Reagan to a full month.  National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the culture, history, and contributions of Americans with heritage who are descendants of the peoples of Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. 

The Spanish Club in 1965 (Savitar 1965)

The University of Missouri recognized the importance of Hispanic heritage at an early date. The Spanish Club was first organized at MU in 1920. While many students in the early years joined the club as a way to practice Spanish as a second language, some were native Spanish speakers.  In 1932 Don Juan Francisco de Cardenas, Ambassador of Spain to the United States visited the University and was the guest of honor at a lunch given by the Spanish club. By 1965 the club met to "help stimulate interest in the language, culture, and the people of Spanish countries," and some of their activities including screening Spanish language movies and hosting readings of Spanish poetry (Savitar 1965).  

Two Sigma Lambda Gamma sisters pose (Mizzou Alumni Magazine, Fall 2000).

Mizzou has many organizations rooted in Hispanic culture.  Mizzou founded a chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma in 2000, a historically Latina sorority, founded first at the University of Iowa in 1990.  Since then, the sorority has expanded its membership to include other multicultural backgrounds.  

Students of HALO at Salsa y Salsa (Courtesy of HALO)

Another Mizzou organization celebrating Hispanic heritage is HALO, Hispanic American Leadership Organization, whose mission is to promote awareness about Latin@ culture in the Mizzou and greater Columbia community.

Many important alumni of Hispanic heritage have received degrees from the University of Missouri. 

Beatriz (Betty Ann) Sheridan (Savitar 1954)
Renowned Mexican actress Beatriz (Betty Ann) Sheridan (B.A. ’55) worked in telenovelas and on the theater stage until her death in 2006. She starred in the first Mexican telenovela, called Senda Prohibida (Forbidden Path), in 1958. She was also Mexico’s first female soap opera director. In 2004, the UNESCO International Theater Institute awarded her a medal for her life's work in the theater.

Elizabeth Vargas (Savitar 1984)
Elizabeth Vargas (B.J. Journalism ’84) is a co-anchor of 20/20, host of ABC News Specials, and previously an anchor of World News Tonight. She won an Emmy in 2000 for her live coverage of the Elian Gonzales case. Vargas is of Puerto Rican and Irish-American heritage.

Albert Garcia III (Courtesy Albert Garcia III and Mizzou Engineering Magazine, Spring-Summer 2010)

Albert Garcia, III, BS CEE ’77, Ph.D. ’84, is a Rear Admiral with the U.S. Navy Reserve.  Admiral Garcia was a tenured professor at Texas A&M University where he worked on bioreactor design.  In 1992 he founded MRV Engineers and Constructors, a multi-disciplinary company based in Georgetown, Texas that worked on industrial wastewater treatment design.  In 2003 he commanded Task Force Charlie of the Marine Expeditionary Force Engineering Group as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Today, Admiral Garcia is the Senior Vice-President for Delivery Excellence at AECOM.

Mizzou's own faculty and administration are representative of Hispanic culture. 

Jose Santos Gollan (Missouri Alumnus, April 1930)
Jose Santos Gollan of Argentina came to MU on a professor exchange to lecture in the School of Journalism. Gollan was executive editor of La Prensa, a daily newspaper in Buenos Aires, for more than twenty years.

Manuel T. Pacheco, 19th President of the University of Missouri (Savitar 2001)
 In 1997, Dr. Manuel T. Pacheco was unanimously named the 19th President of the University of Missouri. Among other accomplishments, he was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine, is a former Fulbright Fellow, and the winner of the Hispanic Achievement Trailblazer Award from Hispanic Magazine. MU named a Leadership Award after him, the “Manuel T. Pacheco Leadership Award”, which honors academic administrators who “exemplify outstanding academic leadership at the University of Missouri.”

The university also takes part in events and organizations that celebrate Hispanic achievements.

The scholars of the McNair Scholars Programs (Savitar 2001)

The McNair Scholars program was set up by Congress in honor of astronaut Ronald E. McNair who perished in the Challenger explosion. The goal of the program is to encourage minority students and first generation college students to pursue graduate education. Students of Latino heritage are among the underrepresented groups that the McNair Scholars seek to recruit.

STEM panelists, Civil Engineering Associate Professor Maria Fidalgo, Physics Professor Carlos Wexler, and Electrical Engineering Professor Guilherme DeSouza (Courtesy University of Missouri, photo credit Hannah Stutecky)
The second annual STEM Panel hosted by the Society of Hispanic Profession Engineers. 

Come learn more by visiting our exhibit in the Lower Lair of the MU Student Center.  The exhibit will be up through October 15. For more events related to the Latin@ Heritage Celebration Month at Mizzou, see the events calendar. 

Blog post composed by Lauren DiSalvo, Curator of Public Art and PhD candidate in Art History and Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.