¡UF Hispana!

Hispanic Heritage Month evokes UF graduate education’s longstanding Latin connection.

¡UF Hispana!

Posted: September 14, 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) brings to mind Florida’s historic links with Hispanic culture.

The state owes its name — “flowery” in Spanish — to Spaniard Juan Ponce de León, who landed here in 1513. And nearby Saint Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos (pictured above) remains a reminder of Florida’s three centuries of colonial ties to Spain. As a result, Florida is the United States’ gateway to the largely Hispanic Caribbean and Latin America.

At the University of Florida, historical overlaps between Hispanic heritage and graduate education include…

1930: UF launched its Institute of Inter-American Affairs to “foster better cultural and economic relations between the United States and Latin America” — the first such research center in this country.

1951: UF’s Institute of Inter-American Affairs became its School of Inter-American Studies, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.

1951: UF Libraries founded its Latin American and Caribbean Collection to support scholarship on the region’s history, culture, economy, and politics. It now houses nearly half a million books, over 50,000 microfilms, and large archives of rare books, manuscripts, and digital resources.

1952: UF added Master of Arts in Latin American Studies to its degree offerings.

1963: UF’s School of Inter-American Studies became its Center for Latin American Studies, after being named a National Resource Center and receiving United States government funding in 1961.

1974: Bilingual education pioneer Dr. Amalia Alvarez, who advanced ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) programs in Florida public schools, became the first Hispanic woman to graduate with a UF Doctor of Philosophy degree.

1994: UF established its Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, nicknamed La Casita (“The Little House”), across from campus at 1504 West University Avenue as community space for Hispanics and Latines among its student body.

2008: UF created its Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, which offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hispanic and Latin American Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, plus the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Spanish.

2019: UF opened brand-new, multi-million-dollar facilities for its Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures on its previous site, giving La Casita a new home at the same address.

2021: Dr. Nicole LaMee Perez Stedman became the UF Graduate School’s first Hispanic American dean.

Learn more about Hispanic heritage and life at UF by clicking here: