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A Letter from our New CMAS Director


Dear CMAS Familia,

It’s a tremendous honor to be named your new director, heading up a unit with a proud legacy and exciting prospects. Thank you for entrusting me with this responsibility.

Deepest appreciation to our immediate past director, John Moran Gonzalez, and to associate director Cary Cordova for their dedicated service to our beloved unit. I know I can count on their support as we go forward.

Our world since March 2020 has been full of anxiety and challenges, so much so that CMAS was forced to postpone and even cancel programs. We all wish we could say the uncertainty is behind us, but we’re not there yet. So, my first order of business is to move forward on the Cincuenta Más Uno celebration – in person if conditions permit, or virtually if we must. We will build on some fine events held over the past year.

Since our launch in 1970, CMAS’s place on the 40 Acres has evolved. CMAS now has two sister units: the Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies (MALS) and the Latino Research Institute (LRI). All three units make up Latino Studies. We are no longer solely Mexican American; we have Latina/o professors and students of all ethnicities. Latino Studies can claim 70 undergraduate majors; 16 graduate students in our portfolio program; and nine doctoral students who will earn a Ph.D. in Mexican American and Latino Studies. More broadly, Latino students make up 26.1 percent of UT-Austin’s student enrollment – enough to qualify the university as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, making the school eligible for some federal grants in the coming years.

Fifty-one years ago, the Latino leaders on campus were Carlos E. Castañeda and Américo Paredes. Today we have deans, an associate provost, and several department chairs. We also have several excellent Latino-centered research units sprinkled across our colleges. But the numbers of Latina/o campus leaders – and even faculty – are nowhere near where they should be.

At every milestone, we become more aware of other areas that need attention:

  • Too many students work 30-plus hours a week to support themselves, leaving less time for their studies and for professional development that would open career opportunities.
  • Latina/o professors are pulled in too many directions as they respond to diversity and inclusion efforts on campus and to community needs off campus – all while producing research and carrying full teaching loads.
  • We face a community hungry for a connection to our great university generally, and to CMAS specifically.

We can’t solve all of the challenges overnight. But together we can begin to address them. We can accomplish so much together. I look forward to working with our many stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, and community members – to usher in the next 50.


Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Mexican American Studies
Professor, School of Journalism and Media, Moody College of Communication

COVID-19 Office Update

Due to COVID-19, the Latino Studies offices will be open from 10am-3pm M–F until further notice. The Latino Research Institute is closed at this time.

The Gloria Anzaldúa Student Lounge will remain accessible to MALS students from 8am-5pm M–F. 

Latino Studies staff are working hybrid schedules and remain responsive on email. To locate our emails, please refer to the Staff List in the navigation to the bottom left.