Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- February 6, 2006
Cal Poly Faculty Member Donates $10,000 to Create Latin American
Cal Poly Assistant Professor of Geography James Keese has donated $10,000 to create an
educational, nonpartisan Latin American Studies Program at the university.
Keese is collaborating with Craig Arceneaux in the Political Science Department to establish
this program. The program is designed to coordinate and support activities related to Latin
America, according to Keese. "The program recognizes that knowledge of Latin America and its
connections to California are essential to bridging the peoples and cultures of the two
regions and to the stability and growth of the state. This knowledge is increasingly important
for careers in education, healthcare, social services, agriculture, law enforcement, business
and tourism," he said.
The Latin America Studies Program also aims to encourage student involvement in the university
and the community, advance the professional development of faculty with interests in Latin
America, promote a diverse and global learning environment, and foster outreach to local
educational institutions, government, business and civic groups.
"Latin America is a region of critical importance to the United States, and California in
particular," Keese said, "Yet it seems that we know little about the issues, places and
people that link and impact both sides of the border."
According to statistics:
Keese, who is also a Cal Poly alumnus, hopes his donation will attract matching funds to
support such activities as study abroad programs, student internships, lecture series, a
student-studies club, and travel and research. The goal is to create a Latin American Studies
Center on campus that will coordinate all program activities, and to have a fully funded
endowment after 10 years to make the center financially self-sustaining.
- 41 million Latinos live in the United States, making up the nation's largest ethnic group
- 34 percent of California's population is Latino; by 2040, there will be a Latino majority in the state
- Free trade with Mexico, Central America and South America is expanding rapidly
- The United States receives 30 percent of its oil imports from Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador
- The Amazon has the world's largest rainforest
- Tens of millions of tourists annually cross the border in both directions.
Contact: Jo Ann Lloyd, Public Affairs, (805) 756-1511;