New for OSU, CL@SE promotes Hispanic leadership, support
Research and outreach associated with Latinos and Latinas in Oregon has a new platform at Oregon State University.
The Center for Latino/Latina Studies and Engagement, or CL@SE, promotes education about the contributions of the state’s Hispanic population, and is a resource for future leaders.
The center’s inauguration week focused on the theme “Seeking Common Ground.” It began Monday with a panel presentation on the history and demographics of Latinos and Latinas in the state.
An inaugural event Wednesday was a reception at the Fairbanks Gallery for an art exhibit by Analee Fuentes.
The exhibit, titled “Del Corazon (By Heart),” features paintings that reflect Fuentes’ identity as a third-generation Chicana who grew up around Latino communities the United States.
“We have been very intentional of each event this week,” said Susana Rivera-Mills, interim director at CL@SE. “We have wanted each event to reflect what the center is about. Today, it is our heart, our culture, soul, identity.”
CL@SE’s inaugural week concludes today at 6 p.m. with a research symposium in the Valley Library, but directors expect the center’s activities to continue at full speed.
“There has been such an excitement and response,” said Rivera-Mills. “This is the first of its kind at OSU.”
The center, she said, offers a “place of commonality” that will allow discussion among students, faculty and the community to address issues within Hispanic populations. Issues on the agenda include immigration, access to health care, education and economic development.
“This is the most significantly growing population in the United States,” she said.
The center’s associate director of research, Daniel Lopez-Cevallos, said that CL@SE is in the process of setting priorities and deciding which issues deserve immediate attention.
“We want to bring research from across campus and agencies and match them with the needs of the community,” he said. Along with goals to provide a place to conduct research and conversation, the center serves communities outside of OSU, such as its partnerships with extension sites in Woodburn, Hood River and Klamath Falls.
The center does not yet have a building, and it is fully funded by the university, but Rivera-Mills hopes soon to have a fundraising strategy in place so that it can seek grants and donations.
“Budget is a challenge,” she said. “We’re moving toward being part-OSU and part-self-sustaining.”
But for Rivera-Mills, Lopez-Cevallos and associate director of outreach and engagement Maria Chavez-Haroldson, the center’s humble beginning is the welcomed outcome of three years of planning.
“It’s an invitation for collaboration — not just campus-wide, but statewide,” Chavez-Haroldson said.
Five students currently volunteer at the center, and many more are signing up for new programs such as “Adelante Leadership,” which Chavez-Haroldson teaches.