Some Highlights of Cuban and Latin American Studies at the University of Alabama
Latin American Studies Program in existence since 1967
Scores of M.A. and B.A. graduates. Lino Gutierrez, M.A., will be sworn in as U. S. Ambassador to Argentina, Sept. 5, 2003. Formerly U. S. Ambassador to Nicaragua.
Interest in Cuba dates from several years ago at UA; but the relationship between Cuba and Alabama goes back--literally--almost five hundred years.
A special issue of Alabama Heritage in 2004 will be devoted to Alabama and Cuba. However, we need about $45,000 and I'll accept donations, or promises, today.
Angus Cooper (and brother David), member of Board of Trustees, donated $50,000 in 2002 to kickstart the Cuba Initiative at UA.
Dean's trip to Cuba January, 2003, a promising start to developing a strong Latin American consciousness among leaders at the University. Other than Stan Murphy being robbed, a good week for all!
Alabama-Cuba Week, Nov. 17-20, 2003 to focus on the developing academic ties between Alabama and Cuba. A direct result of prior trips and the next step in the developing process.
Brief description of topics, including a wide variety of activities, from chemistry to book making, religion to archaeology. Very few, if any, colleges here at UA not represented in this program.
Interest in Cuba and Latin America far reaching across the State, including the decade-long sister city relationship between Mobile and La Habana, the UAB medical community (in addition to our own Colleges of Nursing, and Community Health Sciences), and, of course, the commercial and economic ties being fostered by everyone from shippers in Mobile to chicken parts producers across the State.
Now, for the next step. Let me suggest a plan that includes:
Reconforming the Latin American Studies Program to subsume the Cuba enthusiasm and initiative and give it form.
Establishing a Presidential or Provost's Blue Ribbon Panel to Brain Storm and Plan the configuration of this reinvigorated Program (recall, there is only ONE Latin American Studies Program in the State; it is here)
Make this a truly system wide initiative following the Chancellor's lead.
For particulars, establish a Center or Institute for Latin American Studies
Do a national search for a director.
Establish a Board of Advisers and/or Supporters, including members from both the academic and business communities.
Actively seek outside funding to complement a commitment on part of administration to kick start the Institute.
Make this into a truly system-wide, interdisciplinary center for the study of Latin America with The University of Alabama taking the lead, which, it in fact, it already has. We can either move forward on the tremendous energy being shown, or let others step up to the bat.