Research Center for the Americas to be named in honor of Dolores Huerta

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

I am excited to share that our Research Center for the Americas, which for 30 years has conducted pioneering research on the experiences of Latinx people in the United States and on the various forces shaping Latin America, will be renamed in honor of labor activist Dolores Huerta, whose lifelong advocacy for civil rights has improved the daily lives of thousands and deeply influenced much of the center’s work.

The renaming, as the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas, will become official Oct. 20 during an on-campus event commemorating the RCA’s 30th anniversary. I am delighted Huerta will be on hand.

A co-founder of the United Farm Workers union, founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Huerta has spent more than 60 years as a community organizer, garnering numerous national awards for her lobbying efforts on behalf of farmworkers, immigrants, women, and so many others. In doing so, she has focused a spotlight on issues ranging from labor rights to voter registration to economic inequality.

The RCA’s strong focus on issues closely associated with Huerta make this naming an ideal fit. The center’s work is emblematic of our deep, campuswide commitment to social and environmental justice and our long history of cross-disciplinary research. The center’s renaming enables us to recognize Huerta’s incredible legacy and to reaffirm it at a moment in time when the political tides seek to diminish leaders like Huerta. Many UC Santa Cruz students — the next generation of change makers — will be inspired by Huerta for years to come. The naming will also bring wider recognition to the center itself, something richly deserved.

Established at Merrill College in 1992 as the Chicano Latino Research Center, the center broke ground by putting in conversation the historically disconnected fields of Chicanx/Latinx and Latin American studies. The RCA, now housed in the Division of Social Sciences, is the first research center in the University of California system to advance a broad program of multidisciplinary research and community initiatives in these areas. Over the past three decades, the center has sponsored trailblazing research on issues ranging from migration to environmental degradation.

The center has also built a vibrant community around this work, mainly by giving students, many of whom are from underrepresented groups or are the first in their families to attend college, the opportunity to engage in hands-on research. Allowing students to tap their own cultural insights and strengths, and to make an impact on issues that matter to their communities and families, has proven to be deeply empowering.

We are humbled by this naming and excited for the next steps in this journey. The Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas will expand its programs in ways that align with Huerta’s values and launch a fundraising campaign to support these efforts. UCSC is also working closely with Dolores Huerta and the Dolores Huerta Foundation to build a lasting partnership that ensures Huerta’s legacy continues.

My thanks to RCA Director Sylvanna Falcón, Social Sciences Dean Katharyne Mitchell, the RCA Steering Committee, and the center’s affiliated staff, faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students, who have continuously advanced the center’s impact over the years  and led the effort to name the center in honor of Dolores Huerta. Our campus community is excited to celebrate this day with all of you, and honored that we have the opportunity to recognize the incredible legacy of Dolores Huerta.