Affiliated faculty

Historian Julie Weise’s grant will transform a podcast into a YouTube series

Editor’s Note: Julie Weise is a CLLAS affiliated faculty member. This article originated in Around the O.

Julie Weise

Around the O, March 2, 2020—Julie Weise, an associate professor of history, has been awarded a $50,000 public-engagement grant to take her Nuestro South project to the next level, building on a successful podcast series to create a five-part YouTube series.

The YouTube series will showcase the long history of Latinx life in the Deep South, celebrating 100 years of Latinx culture and contributions in the region. The grant was awarded by the Whiting Foundation.

Weise’s work will build on a previous seed grant she received in 2018, also from the Whiting Foundation, which was matched by the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She used the funding to collaborate with a team of media-savvy Latinx community leaders and college students to create the Nuestro South podcast.

The podcast filters historical scholarship on Latinx people in the South through the lens of youth who are discovering and celebrating their roots in the region. 

“This new dimension in my career has been unexpected and wonderful as I work with brilliant partners to provide the region’s Latinx youth an opportunity to discover the histories of their forebears,” Weise said.

Phil Scher, divisional dean for social science in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the award stands out because it helps make research accessible to the general public.

“Professor Weise has achieved something important for any scholar: She has been able to take her academic research and scholarship to new audiences outside of the academy,” he said. “The Whiting is a wonderful acknowledgement of the kind of exemplary public engagement we value so deeply at the University of Oregon.”

Weise said that for the hundreds of thousands of Latinx youth living in the Deep South, many of whom are children of immigrants who settled during a wave of migration in the 1990s, it can be challenging to understand how they fit into the standard schoolbook history of a black-and-white South. Yet, the history of Southern Latinx communities dates back more than a century.

Her 2015 book, “Corazón de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South since 1910,” pioneered scholarship on this under-studied subject, illuminating the lives of Mexican merchants and laborers in interwar New Orleans, Mexican sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, bracero guest workers in Arkansas, migrant workers in rural Georgia and immigrant settlement in the exurbs of Charlotte in the 1990s. 

After her book was published, Weise did some radio interviews in the South. Among those who heard her was Erik Valera, a nonprofit leader and community activist in North Carolina. Valera reached out to Weise to say that he felt the stories and insight she presented were very important and that he wanted to explore how to make them accessible to others in the community.

“He said he wanted to see the histories from my book on the smartphone of every Latinx young person in the South,” Weise recalls. “As you can imagine, I pretty much fell off my couch. He had faith that the community really cared about this history, and he was right.”

This was the origin of the podcast and now the YouTube series.

With the new Whiting award, Weise and her collaborators will take an extended road trip around the South to shoot and edit the YouTube series. In each stop on their trip, college student hosts will interview Southerners about their and their families’ connection to local Latinx history, retell the stories of Mexican immigration to the area, and engage local young people in conversations about the past.

“The video series and accompanying social media engagement will give Latinx youth a platform to explore their identities, shape their narrative of belonging and see reflections of themselves in historical figures who worked, raised families and fought for justice in the U.S. South,” Weise said.

The Whiting Public Engagement Program is a national grant founded to champion the public humanities in all its forms and to highlight the roles scholars play in using the humanities to advance communities around the country. Weise’s grant was one of 14 awarded to scholars who are tackling pressing challenges in communities.

“The judges were deeply impressed with the way Dr. Weise has developed the Nuestro South collaboration,” said Daniel Reid, executive director of the Whiting Foundation. “They see her proposed next steps as a model for how to bring fresh scholarship to a public who will not only be interested but will be transformed by it.”

By Lisa Raleigh, College of Arts and Sciences

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Monday, March 2nd, 2020 Affiliated faculty, Research No Comments

Laura Pulido is the newest recipient of a Collins Chair

Editor’s Note: Laura Pulido is a CLLAS affiliated faculty member. This story originated in Around the O.

Laura Pulido

Around the O, February 21, 2020—Laura Pulido, a professor in two UO departments who has had a wide-ranging influence on campus and beyond, has been named a Collins Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Collins gift specifies that the recipient of the endowed chair be an outstanding scholar in the humanities disciplines or one who studies “aspects of the social sciences that employ historical or philosophical approaches.”

Pulido holds a joint appointment in the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies, where she has also served as department head, and the Department of Geography. Her research focuses on how working-class people of color struggle for their rights within the confines of what she calls “racial capitalism,” the idea that racism is an endemic aspect of capitalist economies.

More recently, her work has shifted to structures of domination, especially white supremacy and nationalism and how they shape the U.S., including its historical geography.

“Dr. Pulido has a truly outstanding record of scholarly achievements, with an international profile,” said Bruce Blonigen, Tykeson Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who cited Pulido’s 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2018 Harold Rose Anti-Racism Award from the Association of American Geographers, and 2018 Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography by the Association of American Geographers as recent examples of her scholarly achievements and recognition.

Pulido’s arrival on the UO campus was heralded by colleagues across campus. Alec Murphy, professor of geography and Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences, noted that “Laura’s arrival was widely viewed as a coup for UO’s geography department because of her visibility as a disciplinary citizen and the far-reaching impact of her scholarly work on the geographic roots and implications of racial inequality.”

David Vázquez, department head for English and a specialist in Latinx literature, also was enthusiastic about Pulido’s contributions.

“She is one of the leading figures in both the study of race and social movements and in the field of environmental justice studies,” he said. “As one of the top researchers in the world on environmental justice, she further consolidates UO’s reputation as the premier university in the U.S. for environmental studies.”

Pulido has spent much of her career studying how activists create meaningful social and environmental change. She said her interest in political activism began when, as a child, she first learned about Harriett Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

“My inability to understand her courage and actions led me to study how people become activists, their visions for changing the world, how they create change and the obstacles they encounter,” she said. “The fact that the first person I ever admired was a black woman is also meaningful. Although my work is anchored by the study of ethnic Mexicans, I knew that I could never draw too tight a boundary around them. Consequently, I have written a good deal about comparative and relational ethnic studies.”

Pulido said she was delighted to be the recipient of a Collins Chair.

“The University of Oregon attracted me because it was an excellent fit intellectually, but I have found it to also be a very welcoming place.” She said. “As a faculty member of indigenous, race, and ethnic studies, I am especially pleased to be recognized in this way because far too often people do not think ethnic studies is a serious field of scholarship.”

Pulido joins David Li, Collins Professor of the Humanities, who has held the Collins Chair in English since 1999.

By Lisa Raleigh, College of Arts and Sciences

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Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 Affiliated faculty, Awards No Comments

Oregon Senate Confirms Gerardo Francisco Sandoval as Land Conservation and Development Commissioner

Editor’s Note: Gerardo Sandoval served previously as a co-director of CLLAS.

December 6, 2019—From Around the O

On December 2, the Oregon Senate confirmed Professor Gerardo Sandoval as a commissioner on the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). During his term, which began December 1, 2019, and ends November 30, 2023, Sandoval will represent the Willamette Valley region.

portrait of professor Gerardo Sandoval
Gerardo Sandoval

“This is tremendous for [the State of] Oregon,” said Director Jim Rue in the committee’s press release. “Dr. Sandoval’s research, experience, and perspective will help ensure our work benefits all Oregonians.”

The commission, assisting the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), adopts state land-use goals and implements rules, assures local plan compliance with the 19 statewide planning goals, coordinates state and local planning, and manages the coastal zone program. The commission is also tasked with implementing rules on issues as wide-ranging as wildfire planning and urban growth boundaries to re-zoning for “missing middle” housing and the push to allow breweries on hops farms.

Sandoval is an associate professor in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM) at the University of Oregon. His work and research focus on the intersection of planning, immigration, and community change. 

In addition to now serving as a LCDC commissioner, Sandoval is currently serving a four-year appointment as a councilmember on the State’s Housing Stability Council (HSC). The HSC leads the work of the OregonHousing and Community Services (OHCS) department to meet the housing and services needs of low- and moderate-income Oregonians. The Housing Stability Council works to establish and support OHCS’ strategic direction, foster constructive partnerships across the state, set policy and issue funding decisions, and overall lend their unique expertise to the policy and program development of the agency.

“It is an honor to serve the state of Oregon in this capacity,” said Sandoval. “Public service is at the core of the UO’s ethos.” 

Sandoval’s expertise has been recognized through numerous awards and honors, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award from the UO for promoting diversity, social justice, and equity. Sandoval is also the College of Design’s Dean’s Fellow for Diversity and leads the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and its implementation of its Diversity Action Plan.

“Affecting positive change in the State of Oregon is embedded in the UO and PPPM missions, so it’s not at all surprising that Gerardo would lend his expertise to this effort,” said Rich Margerum, director of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management.

Learn more about the commission and its work on the LCD Commission’s website.

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Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 Affiliated faculty, Public Policy No Comments

Gabriela Pérez Báez to receive linguistics award

Gabriela Pérez Báez

Nov. 19, 2019 – Several faculty members in the University of Oregon Linguistics Department will be recognized for their work by the Linguistics Society of America in 2020.

Among those to be granted awards is CLLAS affiliated faculty Gabriela Pérez Báez, assistant professor of linguistics. She will receive the Early Career Award, which honors her documentation of Zapotecan languages, her raising awareness of language diversity and for her work to train speakers in North America and Mexico. —Source: Around the O: https://around.uoregon.edu/content/employee-awards-honors-and-accolades-fall-term-2019

“The Early Career Award, established in 2010, recognizes scholars early in their career who have made outstanding contributions to the field of linguistics. This award is bestowed for contributions to the documentation of Zapotecan languages, for raising public awareness of language diversity and endangerment, and for leading efforts to train members of speaker communities in North America and Mexico. The breadth of Dr. Gabriela Pérez Báez’s contributions is remarkable, and, as Curator of Linguistics at the Smithsonian Institution, she served for over eight years as a public face of the field within one of the world’s most important cultural institutions. Her leadership has allowed events such as the National Breath of Life Archival Institutes for Indigenous Languages to thrive, and her forthcoming Isthmus Zapotec dictionary will become a landmark publication.” — From LSA website: https://www.linguisticsociety.org/news/2019/10/08/award-winners-announced

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Tuesday, November 19th, 2019 Affiliated faculty, Awards No Comments

COE research helps bilingual children find classroom success

This article appeared in Around the O July 29, 2019. Researchers involved in this study include several CLLAS-affiliated faculty.

Interviewing a mother in the dual language lab

School by itself can be challenging enough for kids, but when you add in the extra hurdle of also learning English, it adds another layer of complexity to things.

Children who are bright might be misclassified into remedial classes because of poor assessment practices that don’t take into account their dual-language experiences. Other kids who have learning disabilities might not get identified as such and miss out on the instruction they need.

Several College of Education faculty members are trying to address these issues as the Spanish-speaking population continues to grow in Oregon and beyond. They’re working to help schools better help these students, more quickly identify those who need additional attention, and find the best methods to teach them English while simultaneously teaching skills they’ll need to succeed in and outside of the classroom.

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Ultimately, the goal is to more seamlessly phase bilingual students into mainstream classrooms rather than marginalize them on the fringes, while also supporting the primary language spoken at their homes.

“The roots of bilingual education are that linguistic diversity is a benefit not just to an individual but also to communities, our country and society as a whole,” said Ilana Umansky, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership.

“We’re helping dispel myths that somehow these kids are naturally at risk,” added Lillian Duran, an associate professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences. “They’re not. They just speak a different language, and that in itself does not make you at risk. Our educational system creates risk.”

Ilana Umansky

When children enter a school district, parents often fill out questionnaires that ask what language is spoken at home. Any answer other than English triggers an English proficiency test. How children perform on that test could very well determine the trajectory of their lives.

But what about the kids who fall just short in that test and are classified as English-language learners compared with those who just barely pass? Umansky explores the effect of labeling kids as “English-language learners.”

“A lot of opportunities we offer kids are stratified based on race and English-language proficiency,” Umansky said.

Her research explores ways to support greater equity for students, particularly for those who come from immigrant backgrounds and that have a primary language other than English.

Umansky looked at thousands of kids who fell onto both sides of that tipping point. She found that kids who are classified as English-language learners do worse over time — by a small margin — than kids who just meet English requirements and move forward in regular classrooms.

“That’s pretty troubling,” Umansky said. “English-learner services are supposed to help kids, not hurt them.”

Stephanie De Anda

Stephanie De Anda has personal experience growing up in a Spanish-speaking household. As the oldest of three children, the degree of Spanish fluency decreased with each of her two younger siblings as each was exposed to more English at a younger age.

What languages kids hear from birth is a big part of De Anda’s research. She studies how kids connect words in one language to words in the other and how they form those links.

“This has a clinical application for us because we think if we can understand how these languages interact, then maybe we can leverage that in therapy,” said De Anda, an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Program and co-director of the Early Dual Language Development Lab. “So when these kids come to us with a delay, we can say, ‘Oh, I can support your Spanish in hopes it will also help your English and vice versa.’”

There’s a sense of urgency when it comes to supporting academic outcomes when working with kids learning English. Research shows 65 percent to 75 percent of children with early reading problems continue to read poorly.

Of children with reading problems, 10 percent to 15 percent drop out of high school, and 2 percent eventually complete a four-year college program. De Anda’s research focuses on identifying kids with early language delays and impairments and finding interventions that work best to make them successful in school.

“This has always been important, but we’re just starting to put resources toward it,” De Anda said.

Lauren Cycyk

By 2050, one in three children are projected to be Latino, and Oregon has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the nation. Schools need to be ready to address their needs. That’s where Lauren Cycyk’sresearch steps in.

Cycyk, an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Program and co-director of the Early Dual Language Development Lab with De Anda, looks at ways to incorporate and involve a student’s community in the process of helping them overcome language or learning disorders prior to entry.

“Language disorders are nondiscriminatory,” Cycyk said. “Learning disorders are nondiscriminatory.”

About 10 percent of children have language-learning difficulties. Her work ensures that early education and special education practitioners work with them in ways that respect children’s culture and language while also incorporating their family early in the process.

“For many families, their home educational systems are very different than ours in the U.S.,” Cycyk said. “It’s simply giving them the key to the black box: ‘Here’s how it works in our educational system, so let’s think about how we can encourage your participation so your child is successful.’”

College of Education

Lillian Duran

Schools regularly test students to gauge their strengths and weaknesses. But when you assess a students’ skills in a language they are still learning, does that really gauge what they know about math, reading or writing?

Lillian Duran is working on ways to more accurately test kids’ skills and then catch them early. She develops assessments for preschoolers that measure their language and early reading skills, such as familiarity with the alphabet.

“Most measures we have right now are only in English,” Duran said. “When you have children who enter a program at 3, 4, 5 years old who have primarily been exposed to Spanish, those measures are a poor reflection of actual ability levels. They can historically score very low on measures of English language and literacy and yet still have very high skills in Spanish.”

Duran’s assessments help identify kids who would benefit from extra support so they’re ready for kindergarten and ensure students aren’t underestimated simply because they don’t speak English.

Duran developed her assessments by working with more than 900 preschoolers across the U.S. She’s now working on another measure to monitor progress, which she expects to be available next year.

“The need is only going to increase,” Duran said. “Just think of the resources we’re pouring into remediation when we should be putting resources into prevention and enrichment activities.”

David Liebowitz

In the 1960s and 1970s nearly 500 school districts were ordered to implement some form of a desegregation policy so schools’ racial makeup would more closely resemble that of their overall district.

In the 20 years between 1990 and 2010, however, 215 school districts were released from their desegregation orders, and the outcomes weren’t all positive, David Liebowitz found in his research.

Liebowitz, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership, compared districts that had been released from their desegregation orders with other districts that had not been released or were released at a different time. Districts that were released saw an increase in dropout rates among black and Latino students of 3 percentage points.

“There’s good evidence that desegregation policies improved schools and long-term life outcomes for black and Latino students,” Liebowitz said. “My study looked at what happened at the end of that period when desegregation ended, and it appears to have produced negative outcomes.”

Liebowitz, who joined the College of Education faculty in 2018, is building on his findings by looking for ways Oregon school administrators can better support Latino students in schools, and his work exemplifies that of his fellow College of Education colleagues, especially as it applies to Oregon.

“There’s not lot of quality evidence out there on what actions and behaviors school leaders can take that are most predictive of improved student outcomes,” Liebowitz said. “That’s a really great question to answer in the Oregon context.”

By Jim Murez, University Communications

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Monday, August 12th, 2019 Affiliated faculty, Research, Schools No Comments

Jesús Sepúlveda awarded a first prize in poetry

Jesús Sepúlveda

Aug. 1, 2019 – Jesús Sepúlveda, a Chilean poet and senior instructor I of Spanish in the romance languages department, was awarded the First Prize of Poetry in the II Concurso de Poesía Oregoniana 2019. The Instituto de Cultura Oregoniana, a nonprofit promoting the Spanish-speaking culture in Oregon, gave Sepúlveda the award for his poem “Retablo de las maravillas.” Sepúlveda has written eight poetry collections and three books of essays, most recently “Poets on the Edge,” and his works have been published in more than 15 countries. — from Around the O

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Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 Affiliated faculty, Awards No Comments



Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund

Access the above link for giving to the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund. Online gifts may be made using the form available at this link; all gifts are processed by the University of Oregon Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization responsible for receiving and administering private donations to the University of Oregon.

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CLLAS Common Reading Brunch with author Helena María Viramontes / Photos by Mike Bragg / Courtesy of the UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

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