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Faculty of Advantageous Arts appoints first Latino dean

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Ramón H. Rivera-Servera was admitted into the UT Faculty of Advantageous Arts in 1999 from a working-class Puerto Rican household, when the humanities world was simply starting to divulge heart’s contents to various views. 

On July 1, greater than twenty years later, he’ll change into the primary Latino dean of the Faculty of Advantageous Arts, the place 51% of undergraduates had been non-white as of fall 2019, in keeping with data from the college.

“It’s a very good coming-home,” Rivera-Servera stated. “The sorts of issues I hear from my colleagues and from college students, and the sorts of issues that they’re doing, I’m enamored of the potentialities.”

As a scholar, Rivera-Servera stated he discovered a house within the Heart for Mexican American Research’ Graduate Portfolio Program, based in 2002, the place Latinx graduate college students throughout disciplines met to debate their rising — and generally controversial — scholarship.

Rivera-Servera stated a brand new cohort of Latinx scholars revolutionized academia in the 1990s

“We had been at a second the place the disciplines had been nonetheless studying what the hell to do with us,” Rivera-Servera stated. “If you’re in a room speaking about Shakespeare … it’s shorthand, as a result of we’ve all grown as much as establish that because the cannon of theatrical excellence. However once I say Luis Valdez and Teatro Campesino, an activist theater amongst farm staff in California, I’ve to do quite a lot of contextualizing.”

Some school members stated they anticipate innovation to be a part of Rivera-Servera’s work as a dean.

“He’s somebody who’s going to be a transformative chief, not simply be somebody who may adequately do the job, not only a good administrator,” stated John Yancey, affiliate dean for range, fairness and inclusion within the Faculty of Advantageous Arts and a search committee member.

Rivera-Servera stated he had been contemplating one other deanship provide from one other main public college, however he selected the UT place as a substitute.

“The thought of coming again to UT was actually engaged on me,” Rivera-Servera stated. “In January, I bought the decision, and my husband, who was a scholar at UT as nicely, was there, and we had been simply ecstatic. We had been simply so pleased.”

KJ Sánchez, a theater and dance affiliate professor, stated she wished the faculty to change into extra unified beneath Rivera-Servera’s management.

“I’m enthusiastic about him being dean as a result of he’s already proven that he has the abilities, understanding and expertise to take a look at the faculty as a holistic physique, and I count on him to function within the financial system of generosity,” stated Sánchez, a member of the Faculty of Advantageous Arts Variety Committee.

Rivera-Servera stated he needs to invigorate interdisciplinary work on the faculty, particularly as a result of his scholarship has coated a wide range of topics, from theater and dance to trend and the visible arts.

“I see myself as someone that interweaves all of these knowledges,” Rivera-Servera stated. “I’m actually trying ahead to being in a group that has been considering actually rigorously about their disciplines and serving to them take into consideration the humanities extra broadly.”

Some Latinx college students on the faculty stated they see his appointment as an indication of change.

“Most of the time, it’s shocking to have a professor who’s a minority,” stated Mia Gomez-Reyes, a Latina theater and dance sophomore. “It’s thrilling to have somebody who understands my group innately, another way than somebody who has solely heard about it or examine it.”

Gomez-Reyes stated seeing herself mirrored in faculty management motivates her to proceed her research and combat impostor syndrome that she generally struggles with..

“It turns into much less about ‘I don’t belong right here,’” Gomez-Reyes stated. “If a Latinx professor will get right here, if the top of my division, or the dean will get right here and works right here, then I don’t perceive how I can’t be right here.”

Rivera-Servera stated his appointment is a brand new starting for the Faculty of Advantageous Arts.

“I used to be a scholar at a time when not everyone was invited and never everyone was open to the type of scholarship that I used to be advancing,” Rivera-Servera stated. “Arts training at UT ought to appear to be the remainder of the world appears to be like. We should always try for actual stability and fairness in our work.”