Perry Vetoes $1.5 Million in Funding for UT’s Center for Mexican American Studies

The Daily Texan reported yesterday that the University of Texas’ “Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) took another cut Friday when Gov. Rick Perry line-item vetoed $1.5 million in funding to the center approved by the Texas Legislature.”

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Perry issued a statement where he explained that “he vetoed the funds for the center and other programs because they had not been requested with regular budget ‘formula funds’ and instead were requested as ‘special funds’ outside of the University’s legislative request.” The statement also said the following: “Because of the growth in special item funding, there is less state money to teach college students, which contributes to rising tuition. If the Department of Mexican-American Studies is a priority, the University can use its $2.2 million appropriation for Institutional Enhancement.”

According to the article, the line-item veto also applied to other special item funding requests, such as the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M International University. The article stated that “the center will still receive a $400,000 budget increase next year as part of the University budget appropriation, said University spokesman Gary Susswein. Budgeted funding to the center declined 60 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to the center.”

The article also published reaction from CMAS staff and students:

Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, associate director of CMAS, said the center had been planning to use the additional funding to help develop into a full department capabale of setting the standards for its own faculty hires.

At present, the program’s restricted funds and status as a center means it cannot set the standards for recruitment of new faculty, which has already resulted in a potential faculty member choosing another department during hiring, Guidotti-Hernandez said.

“UT could not compete with other schools, in particular with their salary offers, which is a shame because the candidate is currently the CMAS Carlos Casteñeda Postdoctoral Fellow,” Guidotti-Hernandez said. “We should have been able to retain her and CMAS did everything we could on our end to do so.”

Mexican-American Studies graduate student Jaime Puente said the veto was constricting available resources for graduate students at the University.

“It’s terrible,” Puente said. “It’s part and parcel of what I think is a concerted effort by Rick Perry to attack the University of Texas. If the center can’t fund its graduate students, it will definitely affect recruitment.”

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According to the CMAS website, the center was “born out of the activism of the civil rights movement” and “was established in June 1970:”

The mission of CMAS is to serve Texas and the nation as a leader in the intellectual development of Mexican American studies. Faculty and students affiliated with CMAS have worked to enhance our understanding of Mexican American cultural practices, historical development, and socio-economic conditions, as well as the broader Latino experience, and to strengthen the presence of Mexican Americans and other Latinos in the intellectual terrain, both within and beyond US borders.

CMAS accomplishes its mission by offering an undergraduate degree program, a master’s degree program, and a graduate portfolio program for masters and doctoral students. CMAS engages in community outreach efforts throughout the academic year that include hosting various lecture series, organizing an extensive public programming calendar, and fostering a variety of community and research partnerships.

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