The College is seeking to hire at least three professors with a background in “contemporary Latinx studies” by Fall 2019.
The search process comes after students in the Spring 2018 “Latino/a Civil Rights Movement” class sent an April letter to University President Claire E. Sterk demanding a Latino studies department and a doctoral program in African American studies. The students met with Provost Dwight A. McBride, Laney Graduate School (LGS) Dean Lisa Tedesco and other administrators at the end of the Spring 2018 semester to discuss their requests. McBride’s office did not allow the Wheel to report on the meeting.
College Dean Michael A. Elliott said that meeting was productive in allowing University administration to understand the changes students wanted to see.
“That conversation helped us understand from a student’s perspective the urgency of moving forward quickly,” Elliott said.
The College has a Latin American and Caribbean Studies department, but the class’s letter notes the absence of a program that directly studies Latino culture in the U.S.
“Neither the provost nor I think that we are offering enough in the undergraduate curriculum for students who are interested in learning about these topics,” Elliott said.
The new faculty members will both instruct and conduct research in Latino studies, working between multiple humanities and social sciences departments.
Elliott said the new faculty members would supplement Emory’s commitment to diversity in academic offerings.
“Part of the College’s strategic plan calls for increasing our scholarly work in the study of race, inequality and resilience,” Elliott said.
Sofia Garcia (20C), who signed the April letter to Sterk, said hiring three new faculty members is insufficient.
“We would like to see a greater amount of courses that cater to our needs as Latinx students,” Garcia wrote in an Oct. 15 email to the Wheel. “We want to see professors who look like us, be with students who think like us, while taking courses that pertain to us.”
The new hires could result in new courses or programs of study if the new faculty members choose to expand on current academic offerings, according to Elliott.
“We’re not recruiting with the goal of creating a separate program,” Elliott explained. “One of the ways that they will have impact will be through existing departments and programs, but they may come and propose new programs.”
Elliott said the new hires will ideally provide mentorship to students with interest in Latino studies.
Existing faculty members will benefit because the new hires will share the responsibility of mentoring students with these academic interests, the dean said.
“Our faculty of color are oversubscribed and constantly being called upon to participate in these activities,” Elliott said.
Elliott said that although Emory’s goal is to hire the new professors by Fall 2019, the process could be delayed.
“When we hire someone, we want them to be the person we’re most excited about,” Elliott said. “We’d rather take an extra semester to get that person here.”
Garcia acknowledged that hiring new faculty brings Emory closer toward inclusion and representation of a growing Latino demographic.
“The next step is making a concerted effort to recruit Latinx students both in Georgia and out of state,” Garcia said.