November 18, 1999
One of Tulane's premier research centers began a new era of leadership last month with the installment of Tom Reese as director of the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Reese comes to Tulane from the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities in Los Angeles, where he served as associate director, acting director and deputy director from 1986 to 1998.
His duties included overseeing development of the institutes archive, library, publications, exhibitions and visiting-scholars program, as well as its endowment. Reese began his duties at the Center for Latin American Studies on Jan. 4 and says, "I'm still in the discovery phase here, learning from the faculty and staff who built the center."
His arrival at Tulane is also a homecoming. A New Orleans native and 1965 Tulane graduate, he studied art history and Latin American art under Donald Robertson, professor of art history. He continued his studies at Yale University, earning his PhD under George Kubler, one of the founders of the field of Latin American studies.
Reese was a professor of art at the University of Texas for 16 years, where his teaching and research centered on cultural contact and exchange in colonial Latin America. Reese credits former center director Richard Greenleaf and acting director Gene Yeager with building a well-endowed institution whose achievements are widely recognized.
One of 14 comprehensive Nation Resource Centers funded by the federal government, Tulane's Center for Latin American Studies is ranked among the top two Latin American studies programs in the nation. While the center will continue its mission of research, teaching and outreach strongly focused on Mexico, Central America and the Gulf of Mexico, it will also embrace President Scott Cowen's call for dialogue across disciplines and departments, says Reese.
"We are developing with the center's executive committee a plan for the future that aligns with President Cowens efforts," Reese says, adding that local interaction with the Gulf region is a particularly fertile subject for interdisciplinary approaches. "An unusually strong asset for the university seems to be our presence here, which we should strengthen and build upon."
Reese has experience with such undertakings. At the Getty Institute he directed a series of successful public programs in Los Angeles and a research seminar, Imaging the City in the Americas-Circa 1910, which compared cultural identities, ideas about community and issues such as immigration in cities from Canada to Argentina.
Established in 1962, the Center for Latin American Studies coordinates the activities of 80 faculty members in 17 academic departments at Tulane. Among them are the Cuban Studies Institute, the Middle American Research Institute, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the Neotropical Institute and the Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer.
The center's Latin American Library is one of three such freestanding university collections in the country, with more than 270,000 volumes and a photographic archive of more than 20,000 images. The Latin American Curriculum Resource Center, a lending collection with more than 1,700 books, maps and audio and videocassettes, provides programs and services to schools both locally and around the nation.
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