May 11, 1998: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Hispanic Studies: University Education: Museums: Smithsonian Institution News: Smithsonian appoints Colombia RPCV Refugio Rochin as Director of Center for Latino Initiatives

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Colombia: Peace Corps Colombia : The Peace Corps in Colombia: May 11, 1998: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Hispanic Studies: University Education: Museums: Smithsonian Institution News: Smithsonian appoints Colombia RPCV Refugio Rochin as Director of Center for Latino Initiatives

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Smithsonian appoints Colombia RPCV Refugio Rochin as Director of Center for Latino Initiatives

Smithsonian appoints Colombia RPCV Refugio Rochin as Director of Center for Latino Initiatives

Smithsonian appoints Colombia RPCV Refugio Rochin as Director of Center for Latino Initiatives


Smithsonian Institution News

May 11, 1998

Media only:

Hamlet Paoletti (202) 357-2627 ext. 114
Linda St. Thomas (202) 357-2627 ext. 108

Refugio ("Will") I. Rochin, director of the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University and a professor at MSU, has been appointed the first director of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. Rochin was selected by a search committee that considered nearly 80 applicants from around the nation. The appointment was announced today (May 11) by Smithsonian Secretary I. Michael Heyman.

"We welcome Dr. Rochin as a new voice in the Smithsonian community," said Secretary Heyman. "His scholarly work as well as his leadership in research and policy issues affecting Latinos are the qualities we were looking for in the director of our new center. We look forward to working with him and his staff in creating in the nation's capital a major center for Latino studies, with research, curatorial and educational programs focusing on Latino history and culture".

Rochin, 56, will begin work at the Smithsonian in early August. As director of the Center for Latino Initiatives, Rochin will oversee a variety of projects at the Smithsonian designed to increase awareness of the role and contributions of Latinos to the history and culture of the United States. Projects will include exhibitions, programs, collections and studies.

"I have worked within, and researched, Latino communities for more than 30 years," said Rochin. "I look forward to joining Secretary Heyman, Under Secretary Newman, Provost O'Connor, and the wonderful staff of the Smithsonian in establishing the center as a national entity. Our aim is to bring to the Smithsonian the best representations of Latino history and culture, and inspire a positive awareness of Latinos in the United States. Our challenges are immense, as the Latino population grows not only in size but in its diversity. I look forward to converting our challenges into opportunities for all Latinos."

Rochin has taught agricultural economics, sociology, and Chicano and Latino studies at Michigan State University and the University of California at Davis. At Michigan State, he has been professor of agricultural economics with a focus on labor and communities, and professor of sociology with a focus on race and ethnicity. At UC-Davis, where he is now professor emeritus, Rochin co-founded the Chicano Studies Program and served as its director three times, most recently from 1989 to 1992. He also chaired the graduate program of Community Development at Davis and systemwide committees of the Academic Senate of the University of California, leading the university's Affirmative Action Committee. Rochin also served as assistant to the vice chancellor for student affairs.

Rochin was named director of the Julian Samora Research Institute at MSU in 1994. The institute is a leading Latino research center affiliated with Midwest Consortium for Latino Research and the inter-University Program for Latino Research. It focuses on social-historical Latino issues and has established Latino databases and electronic outreach programs to Latino communities. While at the institute, Rochin founded the Rural Latino Studies Network. His own research at MSU has focused on Mexican-American entrepreneurs in the Southwest, the rural poor, and immigration and settlement in the Midwest.

Before joining the UC staff in Davis, Rochin was program officer at the Ford Foundation's rural development program in Colombia from 1973 to 1975, and program assistant in the Ford Foundation's agricultural development programs in Pakistan and Bangladesh from 1969 to 1971, during the "Green Revolution." One of the earliest Peace Corps Volunteers, Rochin worked with farm workers in Colombia from 1962 to 1964.

Rochin earned his doctorate in agricultural economics at Michigan State (1971); his master's degree in communications, also at MSU (1969); and another master's in agricultural economics and anthropology at the University of Arizona (1967). He earned his bachelor's in economics at the University of California, Berkeley (1966).

Rochin has written numerous articles, edited several books, and contributed to many publications. Among his recent publications are: Immigration and Ethnic Communities: A Focus on Latinos (editor, 1996, published by Michigan State University with the Julian Samora Research Institute); Towards a New Chicana/o History (co-editor with Dennis N. Valdes, scheduled to be published in 1998 by Michigan State University Press); and Rural Latinos: Cross National Perspectives (co-editor with Victor Garcia, Lourdes Gouveia and Jose Rivera, scheduled to be published in 1999 by the Julian Samora Research Institute with University Press).

Rochin is a member of the Board of Economists of Hispanic Business Inc., and serves on the boards of directors of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research and the Midwest Consortium for Latino Research; he also is a member of the Advisory Committee on Latino Employment of the National Council of La Raza. In 1997, he was appointed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman to the National Board of Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics, representing the social sciences.

Rochin was active in the farm worker's movement in California, under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, and in the campaign for the creation of Chicano studies.

Born in Colton, Calif., Rochin "grew up Chicano" in Carlsbad, Calif., where his parents started several food-related small businesses. He and his wife Linda, have four children and one grandchild.


The Smithsonian search committee worked under the direction of Provost Dennis O'Connor. The committee members were: Juan Flores, professor, Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, New York; Nely Galan, president, GaLAn Entertainment. Venice, Calif.; Esther Novak, president, Vanguard Communitcations, New York; Mimi Quintnilla, vice president, Witte Museum of History and Science, San Antonio, Texas; Ricardo Romo, vice provost, The University of Texas at Austin; Joseph Tulchin, director, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C.; Rex Ellis, director, Smithsonian Center for Museum Studies; Robert Fri, director, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History; and Francisco Dallmeier, director, Smithsonian's Man in the Biosphere biological diversity program.

The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives was established by the Institution's Board of Regents in May 1997. It will be located in the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the "Castle" on the National Mall in Washington.

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Story Source: Smithsonian Institution News

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