You will find little argument that the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) is the largest and most well respected institute of its kind in the nation. UT has amazing resources in faculty, libraries, electronic resources, museums, and performing arts that contribute to the breadth of our program offerings. With the $10 million endowment from Teresa and Joe Long we have been able to transform potential into excellence.
Of the Lozano Long Endowment, 55% is earmarked for student travel awards and scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate level. For our undergraduate LAS major, we now can offer travel scholarships to subsidize a semester of study abroad. There is no substitute for experience abroad to give students the cultural context for their studies and improvement of language skills. Undergraduate scholarships attract dedicated students to our program who leave the university not only with the analytic skills honed through Liberal Arts, but also with a knowledge of the Hispanic heritage so important in charting the future of Texas with our changing demographics.
Graduate fellowships have allowed us some ground on which to compete with other academic institutions that can offer substantially more funding to attract the best and brightest to UT. This includes students from Latin America whose presence enriches our programs by bringing different perspectives to the discourse. Provision of graduate student teaching fellowships provides not only financial support, but also teaching experience for those students considering careers in higher education.
Our course offerings and ability to recruit and retain distinguished faculty have been bolstered through our Lozano Long Annual Visiting Professorship and Latin American Professorships. The Visiting Professorship allows us to bring to UT prominent scholars from Latin America to teach for a semester, enriching our course list. Their time at UT reinforces collaborative research with UT faculty and academic exchange through participation in conferences. The Lozano Long Latin American Professorships are used to supplement a UT faculty member’s base salary by providing funds to further research interests. These have been effective in retaining faculty courted by outside institutions and in recruiting top-level faculty in the highly competitive environment of academia.
A commitment to policy and research development as well as public outreach is facilitated by conference and lectureship funds that provide a context for exchange and examination on issues relevant to Latin America, but also to our national and state agendas such as urbanization, immigration, and cultural integration. We also have been able to expand our relationship to the arts that so readily unites us in an appreciation of cultural contributions. The impact of the Lozano Long Endowment has been substantial on our academic program, but we realize, as Teresa and Joe Long did when they requested that their endowment be matched, that meeting the full potential for Latin American Studies at UT will take additional endowment funding. LLILAS is a partner in the leadership role UT has assumed, out of ability as well as necessity, to increase and strengthen ties to Latin American institutions for the benefit of Texas and the nation. With consideration for the many areas of academic excellence LLILAS embraces, we have assessed our strengths and weaknesses to develop a strategic plan for matching the Lozano Long Endowment, which is encapsulated in six objectives:
- Reinforce our student programs and recruitment through scholarships, study abroad, internships, and student exchanges.
- Extend our existing public outreach within Texas and the United States.
- Increase collaboration with Latin American institutions, mainly in higher education, but also including government, the non-governmental sector, and the private sector.
- Strengthen both the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary focus of our programs in teaching.
- Develop our own research agenda in Latin America that is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and comparative between countries.
- Develop scholarly resources that support our research and communication missions.
The LLILAS strategic plan lays out a guide for strengthening our student program, teaching, research, and outreach. It encompasses areas in which we must improve our offerings to remain academically competitive and areas in which we should be making more of a contribution due to the incredible resources we have to do so at the University of Texas. We have passed many milestones in the long history of LLILAS, but now more than ever with increasing globalization we must continue on the path to excellence to ensure we can meet its many challenges.
Charles R. Hale
Director, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies