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Faculty of High-quality Arts appoints first Latino dean

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Ramón H. Rivera-Servera was admitted into the UT Faculty of High-quality Arts in 1999 from a working-class Puerto Rican household, when the humanities world was simply starting to confide in numerous views. 

On July 1, greater than twenty years later, he’ll develop into the primary Latino dean of the Faculty of High-quality Arts, the place 51% of undergraduates had been non-white as of fall 2019, based on data from the college.

“It’s a great coming-home,” Rivera-Servera mentioned. “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 prospects.”

As a pupil, Rivera-Servera mentioned 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 typically controversial — scholarship.

Rivera-Servera mentioned 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 mentioned. “Whenever you’re in a room speaking about Shakespeare … it’s shorthand, as a result of we’ve got all grown as much as establish that because the cannon of theatrical excellence. However after I say Luis Valdez and Teatro Campesino, an activist theater amongst farm staff in California, I’ve to do a whole lot of contextualizing.”

Some college members mentioned 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 might adequately do the job, not only a good administrator,” mentioned John Yancey, affiliate dean for range, fairness and inclusion within the Faculty of High-quality Arts and a search committee member.

Rivera-Servera mentioned he had been contemplating one other deanship supply from one other main public college, however he selected the UT place as an alternative.

“The concept of coming again to UT was actually engaged on me,” Rivera-Servera mentioned. “In January, I obtained the decision, and my husband, who was a pupil at UT as properly, was there, and we had been simply ecstatic. We had been simply so glad.”

KJ Sánchez, a theater and dance affiliate professor, mentioned she needed the school to develop into extra unified below Rivera-Servera’s management.

“I’m enthusiastic about him being dean as a result of he’s already proven that he has the talents, understanding and expertise to take a look at the school as a holistic physique, and I anticipate him to function within the financial system of generosity,” mentioned Sánchez, a member of the Faculty of High-quality Arts Variety Committee.

Rivera-Servera mentioned he desires to invigorate interdisciplinary work on the school, particularly as a result of his scholarship has coated quite a lot of topics, from theater and dance to vogue and the visible arts.

“I see myself as anyone that interweaves all of these knowledges,” Rivera-Servera mentioned. “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 school mentioned they see his appointment as an indication of change.

“Most of the time, it’s stunning to have a professor who’s a minority,” mentioned 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 mentioned seeing herself mirrored in school management motivates her to proceed her research and combat impostor syndrome that she typically struggles with..

“It turns into much less about ‘I don’t belong right here,’” Gomez-Reyes mentioned. “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 mentioned his appointment is a brand new starting for the Faculty of High-quality Arts.

“I used to be a pupil at a time when not all people was invited and never all people was open to the type of scholarship that I used to be advancing,” Rivera-Servera mentioned. “Arts schooling at UT ought to seem like the remainder of the world seems to be. We should always attempt for actual stability and fairness in our work.”