Save Hispanic & Latino Studies at Stony Brook University

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On Monday May 1st 2017, Sacha Kopp, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, informed the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature that the doctoral program in Hispanic Studies would be “suspended” and the undergraduate program merged with other units. This unilateral decision by the administration will result in the department being dismantled, dissolving the identity of Hispanic studies at Stony Brook, demoralizing and disenfranchising the Hispanic population of New York that the university and this department serve. Both the department and its doctoral program are highly ranked nationally and internationally, and are the primary outlet for research, teaching, service and identity exploration in connection to the Latino and Hispanic communities at Stony Brook. The voices of Latino, Latin American and Hispanic intellectuals at Stony Brook University will be silenced.

This happens in a current political climate when these communities have also become targeted at the local and national level. It contradicts the university’s mission of academic excellence and its commitment to diversity and service to our neighboring communities. Moreover, the department regards this proposal as a move to shift graduate level humanities scholarship at Stony Brook to an English-only policy, a source of deep concern.

The doctoral program in Hispanic Languages and Literature is nationally and internationally known for its academic distinction, as evidenced by internal and external evaluations, and by its faculty and graduate students’ publications, distinctions, prizes, and fellowships. By yet another metric of academic success, job placement by PhD graduates, the department has an outstanding record: 90% of its graduates hold academic positions at prestigious universities in the US, Europe and Latin America. A large percentage of these students identify as Hispanic or Latino/a. In their roles as instructors they contribute to the diversity of the faculty and serve as role models for Latino/a undergraduate students. It bears repeating that the department plays a key role in promoting the upward mobility of Stony Brook students. 

Eliminating the doctoral program will negatively impact the academic quality and the global projection, visibility, and prestige of the university. It will immediately fracture the interdisciplinary field of Latino and Latin American Studies, which also has a long tradition of excellence at Stony Brook.

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