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UC Santa Barbara to Establish Nation’s First Chicano Studies Ph.D. Program

UC Santa Barbara to Establish Nation’s First Chicano Studies Ph.D. Program


The University of California Santa Barbara will offer the nation’s first doctoral program in Chicano studies.

The graduate program, which will also include a master of arts track, will be offered by UCSB’s Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, long a pioneering department in ethnic studies. Founded more than 30 years ago, the department was one of the first in the nation dedicated to Mexican-American history and culture and is the only department of its kind in the UC system.

“The approval of our Ph.D. program reaffirms UCSB as the premier university in the nation and in the world in the field of Chicana and Chicano studies,” says UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “UCSB is honored to have the first Ph.D. program in the field and proud of its nationally and internationally recognized scholars in this important area of study.”

Dr. MarĂ­a Herrera-Sobek, former chair of the department and chair of the committee that developed the program proposal, said approval of the graduate program marks a major advance for Chicano scholarship.

“This is a historic moment since it is the first program of its kind in the nation and definitely makes UCSB a leader in the field,” says Herrera-Sobek, who also is acting associate vice chancellor for academic policy and the Luis Leal professor of Chicano studies. “My colleagues are all ecstatic about the news. We, in the department, worked very hard to make this dream come true.”

In proposing the graduate program, the UCSB committee noted that of the 35 million Americans of Latino heritage, about 21 million identify themselves as being of Mexican descent. Such a large group certainly merits a doctoral program to study its culture and history, the committee said.

The addition of graduate classes will bolster the already strong Chicana and Chicano studies department, which currently serves about 150 undergraduate majors and hundreds more students from other departments. Led by its present chairwoman, Dr. Chela Sandoval, the department currently has 12 full-time faculty members. The program’s first graduate students are expected to be admitted and enrolled for fall quarter 2004.

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