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Scholar on inclusion keynotes Latinx celebration

Scholar on inclusion keynotes Latinx celebration


Michael Benitez, a nationally-acclaimed scholar, practitioner and educator on diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education, will deliver the keynote speech on Saturday, Oct. 12, during SUNY Cortland’s inaugural, monthlong celebration of Latinx history.

Benitez, the author of book chapters and articles on student identity, hip-hop culture, ethnic studies and campus climate assessment, will begin at 1:45 p.m. in the Corey Union Function Room.

Michael Benitez

Benitez’s talk takes place during an Oct. 12 event called the “‘Nuestras Americas:’ A Celebration of Latinx History Month,” which will run from noon to 4 p.m. in the Function Room. The celebration also will feature food and performances by the student dance team formed in 2018, Ritmo Latino, and the Omega Phi Beta sorority.

The Latinx History Month series began Sept. 11 and will run through Oct. 17. Events are free and open to the public, except for the Nuestras Americas celebration event on Oct. 12, which is limited to the first 150 campus community members who attend.

Over the last two decades, Benitez has served higher education in different capacities, including academic and student affairs, equity and inclusion and teaching. Currently, he is the dean of diversity and inclusion/chief diversity officer and Title IX officer at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington.

Benitez is known for his down-to-earth, insightful commentary and critical perspectives on social and cultural issues. His frequent speaking topics include social justice education, leadership and identity development, intersectionality, race and ethnic relations, anti-racism, knowledge production, and critical pedagogy and practice in higher education.

At the University of Puget Sound, Benitez established the “Diversity Monologues,” an annual program aimed at highlighting the creative talents of students while addressing diversity and social justice. He since has helped implement and shape the program at other colleges and universities.

Benitez is co-editor of the anthology, Crash Course: Reflections on the Film “Crash” for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege (2007), and occasionally contributes to online magazines, scholarly databases, books and journals. He has been featured in educational documentaries, such as the 2012 film “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity,” and has appeared on talk shows such as “Worlds Apart,” “Hard Knock Radio” and “Speak out with Tim Wise.”

Benitez holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy from Iowa State University’s School of Education and has been recognized with leadership and scholarly awards. He has both a B.S. and M.Ed. from the Pennsylvania State University, in counselor education and human development and family studies, respectively. At Penn State, he pursued doctoral studies as a McNair Scholar.

2019 Nuestras Americas: Latinx History Month continues with the following events:

  • “A Conversation about the LGBTQ+ Community in Latinx Culture: Part 1,” hosted by La Familia Latina and PRIDE club, takes place today, Oct. 8. The discussion begins at 6 p.m. in Corey Union Voice Office.
  • A “Latinx Dance Workshop on Bachata and Salsa” runs from 8 to 9:30 p.m. today, Oct. 8, in Corey Union Fireplace Lounge. The event is hosted by Ritmo Latino.
  • Germán Zarate, a SUNY Cortland associate professor of economics, will discuss “China in Latin America: Partner or not?” Wednesday, Oct. 9. The sandwich seminar begins at 12:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
  • La Familia Latina and PRIDE club will host Part 2 of “A Conversation about the LGBTQ+ Community in Latinx Culture” on Thursday, Oct. 10. The presentation will start at 7 p.m. in Corey Union Voice Office.
  • Photographer Daniel Farber Huang will lecture on his current exhibition “FACES: Portraits of Immigrants” Thursday, Oct. 17. The sandwich seminar will begin at noon in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. The exhibition of his work, “The Power of Faces: Looking at the Global Refugee Crisis,” currently hangs in Old Main Colloquium Room, where it will be displayed until Oct. 15.
    SUNY Cortland students practice their Latinx dance moves recently.

The Latinx History Month series is sponsored by the university’s Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office, Latinx and Latin American Studies Department, La Familia Latina, Spanish Club, Caribbean Student Association, Women of Color, Ritmo Latino, Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc., Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc., La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc., Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Incorporada.

For information about the sandwich seminars, contact Colleen Kattau, SUNY Cortland associate professor of Spanish, at 607-753-2025. For information about the FACES exhibit, contact Ute Ritz-Deutch, lecturer in history, at 607-753-2918. For information about the rest of the programming, contact AnnaMaria Cirrincione, director of multicultural life and diversity, at 607-753-2336.