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César Chávez center flourishes in first decade

The creation of the César Chávez center in 1993 followed days of protests by students advocating for departmental status for Chicana/o studies.

UCLA Today

In the 10 years since UCLA converted its undergraduate program in Chicano studies into the César E. Chávez Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction in Chicana and Chicano Studies, this field of study has flourished so remarkably at UCLA that a proposal has been submitted to give the center departmental status.

The proposal, submitted this spring by Reynaldo Macias, the center’s chair and professor, is being reviewed and evaluated before final recommendations are made, a process that often requires more than year. It has received support from various faculty and administrators.

“Although we have a long way to go before the center becomes a department, we are supportive of the establishment of the César E. Chávez Department for Chicana/o Studies,” said Scott Waugh, dean of social sciences for the College of Letters and Science.

UCLA set up an interdepartmental program in Chicana/o studies in 1973. In 1993, following mass protests and a hunger strike, university leaders decided to create a center for interdisciplinary instruction that could better support the growth of Chicana/o studies as an academic field. Hunger strikers and UCLA officials signed an agreement to that effect in June, 1993.

Since its creation, the center has grown in many ways. This year, 133 students are majoring in Chicana/o studies compared with 42 students in 1992-93. The center’s enrollment has surged from 798 students a decade ago to 2,135 this year. While 28 courses were taught in 1992-93, there are 71 offered today. And while there were no full-time professors appointed to the program 10 years ago, seven full-time professors have been appointed since then.

“The growth of Chicana and Chicano studies at UCLA is all that we had hoped for 10 years ago,” Waugh said. “The field is thriving, and we are very proud of the center’s success.”

Said Macias: “Our faculty’s contributions to the university, scholarship and the community continue to blossom each academic year. Our graduates have gone on to become leaders in many different occupations, and those that have continued in higher education have been accepted at other prestigious universities throughout the nation.”

The center will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with speakers and entertainment and commemorate the 1993 events on May 31 from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Dickson Plaza.

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