UCLA kicked off its centennial on Alumni Day, May 18, 2019. More than 5,000 people were on campus for an all-day program that included a session on 50 years of ethnic studies at UCLA.
The directors of the ethnic studies centers and I led a roundtable discussion in the Chicano Studies Research Center library in Haines Hall. The room was full and the energy vibrant, as we discussed both the legacies as well as the present and future of our collective and impactful work as organized research units of the University of California.
By any measure, the record of our centers and the Institute of American Cultures is impressive, but what stood out to me that day were the interactions of people who had been touched by our centers over the years. Time and again, people commented on mentoring received and the connections of community on campus and beyond. Those bonds among students, with our staff and faculty members, and the intentional linkages with our respective communities speak to an engaged presence that our centers represent to generations of students.
It is wonderful to see so many of our alums thriving and to realize that our centers played a role in their formation. The centennial celebration and our fiftieth anniversary are powerful reminders how many of our center alums have been and are agents of positive change and social justice.