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Department of Ethnic Studies

History and Activism

Timeline of Ethnic Studies Institutional History and Development (1969-present) 

  • 1969 Ethnic Studies is formed at SCU reflecting and responding to the needs of ethnic minority students on campus, the misinformation prevalent in canonical literature and traditional disciplines, the growing recognition of demographic changes and particularly the increase of minority populations in California and the country, and reflection on the need to integrate those changes and attend to the histories and experiences of these population within the SCU social justice perspective.
    • The specific genesis of the program came from a faculty committee constituted in 1969 (from faculty in history, anthropology, and sociology).
    • The proposal for Ethnic Studies included a petition for an Ethnic Studies Department as well as a B.S. or B.A. in Ethnic Studies, and a campus wide undergraduate requirement.
      • What emerged was an interdepartmental teaching program located within the President’s office (under the direct supervision of the Academic Vice President) with no major, no faculty, and only a college requirement for students in the College of Science and the College of Humanities.
    • Ethnic Studies offered 15 cross-listed courses (the original participating departments were history, music, political science, anthropology, creative arts, sociology, Spanish, theology, and English)
    • Policy decisions were made in consultation with an Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee composed of 6 faculty members and 6 students.
    • At the time there were no lines, lecturers, or dual-appointments in the program.
    • The first director appointed was an African American man named Cy Edwards who was appointed in November 1969. Prof. Edwards was one of only a handful of racial minorities on the campus and at the time of his appointment he possessed only an MA, complicating his ability to lead the program and for the unit to be taken seriously as an academic endeavor comparable to other departments on campus.
    • No major or minor provided – only option for students to mark their interest in the subject was through a special emphasis.
  • 1971 Director Edwards again makes the case for Ethnic Studies department status and that a division of ethnic studies be created within the university. The request was denied.

  • 1971 Professor Phil Montesano (teaching in Ethnic Studies) writes to President Terry requesting the formation of an “Ethnic Studies Department, an increase in the teaching staff, an increase in the courses offered in both black and chicano studies, the establishment of a cultural center for students, and funds for research purposes in black and chicano studies.” The request is denied due to lack of funds.

  • 1972 Director Edwards writes a memo to AVP James Albertson reiterating the call for a division of Ethnic Studies within SCU. The request was denied by AVP Albertson.
  • 1974 President Donnelly formed the Subcommittee on Ethnic Studies of the Educational Programs Committee to review the state of Ethnic Studies on campus.
  • The committee concluded that the program had never been adequately funded to accomplish its goals, and that the position of an Ethnic Studies Coordinator be creased to work with departmental faculty to develop courses in their area of specialization.

  • 1976-77 Ethnic Studies Program comprised of 2 full-time instructors (one African American and one Chicano) and a part-time lecturer, none of which held PhDs. 
  • 1978 Ethnic Studies placed under the jurisdiction of the College of Sciences headed by Dean Drahmann, a context which was described by the Director of Ethnic Studies as a “hostile environment.”

  • 1979 (August) Director Cy Edwards is fired by AVP Paul Locatelli. In the process the AVP lays out a new direction for Ethnic Studies that includes eliminating the position of Director and replacing it with an Ethnic Studies Coordinator and moving toward an assimilation model of Ethnic Studies (integrating it into existing departments) thereby eliminating the possibility of forming an Ethnic Studies department. 
  • 1979 a Committee on Ethnic Studies(chaired by Jo Ann Vasquez) is formed by AVP Paul Locatelli to review the state of the program, including “new courses that would possibly be included in the Ethnic Studies Program” as well as “developing a proposal for an institute to study Ethnic Groups in the United States” and make recommendations to the AVP going forward.
  • 1980 (March) Coalition of Chicano and African American students led by David Powell (Black Student Union) and Roberto Ortega (El Frente) submit a “Proposal for an Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Santa Clara” to the Ethnic Studies Committee (convened by the AVP). The proposal is dismissed and never incorporated into the committee’s recommendations.
  • 1980 (June) After a year of meetings and deliberations the committee makes a series of recommendations including establishing a university wide Ethnic Studies requirement, outlining specific duties for the Ethnic Studies Coordinator and making recommendations for new Ethnic Studies courses, including ones in the College of Business.

  • 1980 Dr. Gary Okihiro hired to become new Ethnic Studies Program Coordinator. He was appointed full-time in History (his PhD was also in History).
  • 1981 Dr. Okihiro requested that the Academic Affairs committee pass an ethnic studies core curriculum requirement for the entire university. The request was denied.

  • 1981-1983 First Ethnic Studies core- faculty hired with the intention of developing and teaching courses within Ethnic Studies. Faculty have joint appointments within Ethnic Studies. The faculty appointments follow what is described in reports as the “assimilation” model in which faculty teaching in Ethnic Studies will have main line department appointments and are housed exclusively in those main line departments, thus promoting diversity awareness within traditional departments and diffusing Ethnic Studies as an academic core. Ethnic Studies is neither permitted nor encouraged to hire or house its own faculty.
    • Ramon Chacon (1981, History)
    • Alma Garcia (1982, Sociology)
    • Kate Conway McDavis (1983, Psychology)
  • 1982 the College of Arts and Sciences openly debated dropping the ethnic studies requirement for all majors generating strong negative reaction from Igwebuike, MEChA, the Asian Pacific Student Union and the Women’s Center Advisory Board. CAS kept the requirement.

  • 1982-1985 a concerted push from the Dean of CAS (Joseph Subbiondo) and AVP Paul Locatelli to do away with Ethnic Studies as an independent academic unit generating its own courses and disperse the teaching of all ethnic studies courses within traditional academic departments. This push created considerable tension between CAS, the Provost’s office and Ethnic Studies documented in a series of challenging memos.
  • Mid-1980s a series of conversations takes place between Ethnic Studies Coordinator, core faculty and various administrators regarding the status of Ethnic Studies, the expectations of the faculty vis-à-vis their main department appointment, and their evaluation. The issue of making Ethnic Studies a department is raised once again in these discussions but never implemented.

  • 1989-91 Dr. Ramon Chacon serves as Director of Ethnic Studies
  • 1990 Dr. Stephen Fugita hired as core faculty with joint appointment in Ethnic Studies and Psychology.

  • 1990 President Paul Locatelli convenes an Ad-hoc University committee of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to promoting “Excellence through Diversity” in the wake of several high profile racist and sexist incidents involving campus fraternities and sororities.
  • 1991 Over 250 students led by a coalition of minority students, principally members of Unity 2 and the Multicultural Center, marches to the President’s office and delivers a list of recommendations for promoting diversity on campus. Included in the list of recommendations is making Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies a university requirement for graduation and elevating Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies to department status.

  • 1993 A new Ethnic Studies minor is instituted replacing the special emphasis
  • Between 1992-2009 grew to largest minor in the College (159 students)
  • 1993 Ethnic Studies Director Steve Fugita along with Ramon Chacon, Alma Garcia, and Dwight Hopkins request that Ethnic Studies be allowed to move toward a department model. The request is denied.

  • 1999 Students from the Multicultural Center and Unity 3 stage a three-day protest in response to a series of incidents involving racial harassment of SCU students and family members by other SCU students, and as a means to call attention to pervasive forms of racial inequality on the campus. Among the demands called for by the students is the “legitimization of the Ethnic Studies Program” as a University department.
  • After extended negotiations with Provost Steve Privett, Vice Provost for Multicultural Education Sonny Manuel, the university agrees to support efforts to develop the program into a department.
  • 2003-2004 Under the direction of Dr. Atom Yee Ethnic Studies moves from a university program (under the direction of the Provost) to a program within the College of Arts and Sciences

  • 2006 Ethnic Studies completes last Program Review. Key recommendations from External Review committee include:
    • Establishment of a university wide ethnic studies and women’s studies requirement
    • Hiring of a full-time Ethnic Studies director
    • Development of an Ethnic Studies companion major and a stand-alone major
    • Development of a center for research excellence centered around race and ethnicity 
  • 2007 Ethnic Studies hires first full-time tenure track faculty
    • Robin Hayes (left SCU in 2010)
    • Perlita Dicochea (left SCU in 2013)
  • 2009 New course launched in which Diversity requirement once confined to the college is expanded to the entire university.

  • 2010 Ethnic Studies launches first companion major degree on the recommendation of Program Reviewers
    • Number of major expands from 2 in 2010 to 20 by 2014
    • By 2013-14 Ethnic Studies graduates the same or greater number of majors as Art History, Studio Art, Ancient Studies, Classical Studies, French and Francophone Studies, German Studies, Italian Studies, Latin and Greek, Religious Studies, and Physics 
  • 2015 After a series of racial incidents online and on campus, a group of students formed under the banner of Unity 4 meet with the President and outline a series of recommendations to address inequality on the campus. Among the recommendations is “the formal creation of Ethnic Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies Departments with stand alone major programs.”

Unity 4

History of Unity

Oglala Lakota activist and acclaimed actor Russell Means during a visit to Santa Clara University with Dr. Glenn Morris, organized by the Ethnic Studies Program on October 12, 2011. This was one of Russell Means last pubic lectures before his passing in 2012.

Oglala Lakota activist and acclaimed actor Russell Means during a visit to Santa Clara University with Dr. Glenn Morris, organized by the Ethnic Studies Program on October 12, 2011. This was one of Russell Means last pubic lectures before his passing in 2012.