Latin American Studies names new director

By Cassie Blombaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 30, 2005

The UA appointed a new director for the Center for Latin American Studies who can bring in a fresh perspective with years of cultural experience.

Professor Scott Whiteford, the new director for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, has been involved in Latin American studies for years despite this being his first year at the UA.

"I have been involved in border research for more than 20 years," Whiteford said. "I have collaborated with Latin American colleagues on research in Mexico, Central America and South America."

As the department's first anthropologist, Whiteford will allow the center to become even more interdisciplinary, said professor William Beezley, the former interim director.

"He brings a different perspective to the center," Beezley said. "Because of his training, he is able to bring together the humanities approach, the social science approach, the science approach and the agriculture approach."

Whiteford said he is well aware of everything the university has to offer and is pleased to be a part of it.

"The University of Arizona is special, and I am very pleased to be here because I want to help students take advantage of the remarkable opportunities the university offers," Whiteford said.

Promoting the study of Latin American culture at the UA is crucial, Whiteford said, because Arizona is a gateway that connects the United States to regions of Latin America.

"With the rich cultural heritage and history of the state, coupled with its location, the University of Arizona is positioned to be a national leader on Latin American scholarship and international policy," Whiteford said.

Edward Donnerstein, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said Whiteford is a remarkable professor who has contributed substantially to the study of Latin America, its agriculture and water policy.

"Dr. Whiteford is an outstanding scholar who will be able to bridge areas of water policy across various colleges in the university," Donnerstein said.

Whiteford, who worked as a director of a similar center at Michigan State University, said the UA center is a great way for students to become knowledgeable in the fields of Latin American Studies.

"Everyone at Arizona should learn Spanish, Latin American history and culture," Whiteford said. "It opens doors for learning and jobs. It should be viewed as part of the state heritage."

Although the UA offers a wide number of courses on Latin America, many students are not knowledgeable about the region, Whiteford said.

"I do not think most students are aware of the rich cultures of the region and the opportunities understanding Latin America offers," Whiteford said.

Overall, Whiteford said he wants to help the faculty to make the center one of the best in the nation.

"To do this we need to enhance scholarship, help address major policy issues and help students take advantage of living on the border in a way that will transform their lives," Whiteford said.

Whiteford said he has analyzed international migration and human rights and performed substantial research on the impacts of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Mexico.

"Almost all of these projects have been done with Latin American colleagues with support from foundations," Whiteford said.

Beezley said the new director's experience with acquiring money from different foundations is especially beneficial for the UA.

"He has very strong and important connections with both national and international foundations so he is going to be able to attract foundation money to the Center for Latin American Studies," Beezley said.