The Latino/Latin American Studies Center was founded in the summer of 1995 by history professors, Mariano Díaz-Miranda and Terry Thomas. El Centro, as it is affectionately known, was first established at the Rio Grande campus with Díaz-Miranda serving as Director and the expressed support of Vice President Dr. Steve Kinslow and Dean of Humanities, Margie Huerta. In 1997, El Centro accepted college-wide responsibilities and moved to the Riverside Campus. Since then, the center helped ACC attain status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, sponsored the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), raised scholarship funds for high school students through the Austin Community Car Show, and held cultural events such as Díes y Seis de Septiembre, Día de los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and Día de la Familia. Finally, realizing an original vision of the founders, El Centro recently acquired the Tijerina Book Collection to establish a learning center for students to achieve success in their academic endeavors.
The purpose of El Centro, from its foundation, has been both community oriented and academic. As stated by Dr. Díaz-Miranda, El Centro is a “portal to help Latino students to come to ACC.” This is done through the recruitment and retention of Latinx high school students from the surrounding communities. Academically, El Centro strives to facilitate thoughtful discussions concerning Latinx history and culture in the classroom, conferences, round-tables, symposiums, and online venues. We remain committed to facilitating the placement of our students at elite Latin American Studies programs at universities in central Texas and the rest of the country.