PRSA Statement: Celebrating 45 Years of Accomplishments of CENTRO

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Here is a statement by the Puerto Rican Studies Association—“Celebrating Forty-Five years of Accomplishments of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro) at Hunter College”—posted by PRSA Executive Council Member Dr. Aldo Lauria Santiago. [See the original at the Latina/o Studies Association Facebook Page.]

For forty-five years, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, CUNY, has been the premier think tank, producer and repository of knowledge about the Puerto Rican experience. Since its creation in 1973 Centro has provided the resources for scholars and students to mature professionally and to contribute to the recovery, production and preservation of scholarship about Puerto Ricans while making it available to the academic community as well as the general public.

Centro has become a cultural and academic hub where Puerto Rican scholarship meets Puerto Rican communities. Centro has provided a model for how knowledge produced in the academic world can have a broader impact in the community. Few area or ethnic research centers come close to what the researchers and staff at Centro have accomplished over these years.

Centro’s mission is critical to the creation of policies for communities in New York, the United States and Puerto Rico. In view of the many crises affecting the Puerto Rican diaspora, the natural and man-made disasters in the wake of Hurricane María, and the fact that the continental based Puerto Rican community continues to grow in New York and elsewhere, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies mission has become even more critical.

Centro’s achievements are outstanding and in recent years have diversified the types of work it supports and moved to make its production (and archival holdings) more visible through online platforms as well as live (or virtual) events. Centro has avoided partisanship and instead has focused on bridging the spaces of disagreement within our communities and the academic world. Centro Press, Centro Journal, Voices, T.V., the data center, the oral history programs and other projects and initiatives have provided the forums and outlets for scholars and community to communicate. Centro’s academic work is only matched by how influential the Center has become in the last decade.

Presently, Centro is the most reliable source of data about Puerto Ricans in both the mainland and the island. Its focus on the creation of data-driven reports on Puerto Ricans has been instrumental in public policy debates.

Since 2008, researchers in Centro’s Research Unit have published:
• five books (monographs)
• four edited volumes
• thirty-three articles in peer-reviewed outlets
• eighteen book chapters
• six major policy reports, among other contributions to generalized knowledge

Since 2012, the Data Center has released more than:
• twenty-five research briefs
• more than twenty-five data sheets, population profiles for selected states, counties, metropolitan areas and cities between 2010 and 2016
• more than twenty-five population maps

Noteworthy among these has been the Data Center’s estimate of the number of Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricanes Maria and Irma. The data brief has been viewed thousands of times since its release in March 2018 and has been used by leading news outlets.

For these reasons the Executive Council of the Puerto Rican Studies Association commends and celebrates Centro, its leadership, researchers and staff, for their critical contribution to Puerto Rican, urban, ethnic and area studies within the CUNY system. The hundreds of thousands of people who follow Centro’s reports, web sites, journal, events, blogs and other products are a firm testament to this success. We also are grateful to CUNY and especially Hunter College for hosting and supporting Centro over these many years of productive engagement.

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies is an indispensable institution for Hunter College, CUNY, scholars in Puerto Rican and Latino Studies, New York City and Puerto Ricans communities in the United States and Puerto Rico. We are grateful to the individuals, institutions and communities that have supported Centro over its 45-year trajectory.

Responses to PRSA Exec. Council Member Aldo Lauria Santiago—alauria@lcs.rutgers.edu

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