Our History: A Timeline

Latino/a Studies has existed at Duke University since the 1990s, achieving official Program status in Fall 2008.

A chronological timeline of significant events in our Program's creation and evolution follows:

FALL 1997

The Concilio Latino/Hispano/Americano, with approximately 60 faculty, student, and staff members, forms to foster a Latino intellectual community at Duke University and to develop a U.S. Latino agenda for the campus. The Concilio organizes its work around three themes that are addressed by separate subcommittees: research and academics; student and campus life; and community outreach. A main goal of the academic subcommittee and the Concilio as a whole is to establish a program in Latino Studies at Duke University.

WINTER 1999 – 2000

Students meet with Dean Robert Thompson and President Nan Keohane to request new course offerings in Latino Studies. From this meeting the idea of a certificate program in Latino Studies develops. In January 2000, Dean Thompson's office offers funds to develop a cluster of three courses in Latino Studies.


The first Latino Studies cluster course is taught. A committee of Duke faculty, students, and staff members submit a proposal for a certificate program in Latino Studies, with support requested for a director, a conference, faculty course development awards and administrative costs. The committee receives partial funding, which is used to support the development of three additional courses and program administration.

FALL 2001

The second Latino studies cluster course is taught. The certificate proposal is rejected due to an insufficient number of courses to support a certificate program. The committee decides to continue with efforts to build a program even though a certificate is not feasible at this time. A committee of faculty, staff, and students begin planning a two-day workshop on Latino issues.


The third Latino studies cluster course is taught and "The Color of Hegemony: Latinos/as in North Carolina and the U.S." conference is held at Duke. More than 120 people from Duke and the local community attend.


"Seeds of Change: Latino/a Citizenship(s) in the Here and Now" conference is held at Duke. More than 200 people registered from Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the local community.


A networking dinner hosted by Latino/a Studies at Duke and Duke Latino/a Graduate Student Association provides a space for the discussion and generation of ideas regarding the Latino/a community at Duke University and moves the community closer toward the formation of a campus-wide network for Latino/a issues.  

FALL 2004

A new "Latino/a Studies Initiative at Duke" is set forth for the academic year; included in the plans are a welcome reception and organizational meeting, several lecture discussions with invited speakers, two film and director events, and research support awards for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty members.


President Brodhead meets with representatives from Latino/a undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and alumni organizations to discuss issues such as student recruitment and retention, hiring of Latino/a faculty and administrators, creation of an institutional infrastructure for Latino/a Studies at Duke, assessment of Duke as an employer of Latino/a staff and employees, needs and offerings related to the local Latino/a population, and university-wide dialogue related to these topics. The group leaves President Brodhead with a joint request from Latino/a Studies and El Concilio Latino for a University-wide task force charged with drafting an Action Agenda for Latino/as and Latino/a Studies at Duke University.


Latino/a Studies and El Concilio Latino run a full-page notice in The Chronicle, thanking President Brodhead for support and requesting the appointment of a presidential task force with representation from our ranks to develop the agenda needed to ramp up the level of activity and visibility of Latino/a issues and studies at Duke. More than 160 individuals and organizations signed on to support this request.

FALL 2005

Latino/a Studies continues the Initiative begun in Fall 2004. The Initiative is the main host for five major speakers/events during the 2005–2006 academic year, co-sponsors nine additional events, and provides financial support to two graduate students and seven undergraduate students for research and conference attendance.


Latino/a Studies receives approval to hire a permanent Program Coordinator and to establish a new office for Latino/a Studies. While still partnering with Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Latino/a Studies office is set up separately in the John Hope Franklin Center for the 2006–2007 academic year. The staff and faculty develop and implement a program of activities, events, and research opportunities for the year, while also working toward the goal of creating a certificate in Latino/a Studies.

FALL 2007

Latino/a Studies acquires new, permanent space in the renovated Old Art Museum on East Campus (dedicated the Ernestine Friedl Building the following spring). Three offices are secured for the Director, Program Coordinator, and to begin a Latino/a Studies Resource Room. The final work to submit the proposal for an undergraduate certificate is completed.


The University approves the undergraduate Certificate, "Latino/a Studies in the Global South." Plans are made to offer the Introductory course the following academic year. A proposal for "Program" status, with five-year plans, is submitted to the University.

Fall 2008

"Program" status is approved by the University. Just one year after acquiring space for the Latino/a Studies Resource Room, it is now used frequently by students, faculty and staff, and houses a significant collection of useful journals, encyclopedias, texts, and novels. The walls display beautiful works by local and national Latino/a painters, photographers, and silk screen artists.


The first "Introduction to Latino/a Studies in the Global South" is successfully offered during this semester. After a year's coordination, the work of Chicano/Latino artist Malaquias Montoya is exhibited in the brand new Fredric Jameson gallery in our building. In other art-related news, actor, director, comedian, and art collector Cheech Marin donates a stunning portfolio of Chicano art to Latino/a Studies. A new postdoctoral associate position in Latino/a Studies is approved by the University and advertised.