Notre Dame Launches Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture Series

Author: Kate Garry

Carlos Eire

On Wednesday, November 13, Carlos Eire, the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, will give the inaugural lecture in the Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture Series, sponsored by Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS).

Eire, author of the National Book Award-winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy (2003), will speak at 7 p.m. at the Hesburgh Center Auditorium, followed by a reception and book signing.

Eire specializes in the social, intellectual, religious, and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe, with a strong focus on both the Protestant and Catholic Reformations; the history of popular piety; and the history of death.

He is also one of 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children who were airlifted to the United States through Operation Peter Pan in 1962 after Fidel Castro rose to power in his native Cuba. A Los Angeles Times reviewer acclaimed Waiting for Snow in Havana as “the most accomplished literary expression of exile sensibility to have appeared to date.” A subsequent memoir, Learning to Die in Miami (2010), further explores the exile experience.

“We are delighted to have Professor Eire as our inaugural speaker for this lecture series,” says literary scholar José Limón, director of ILS and Julian Samora Chair in Latino Studies in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. “As an academic leader in his field, and as the foremost writer of the distinctive Latino experience that is Cuban America, he is a superb choice.”

The new Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture Series will bring to campus “prominent figures in politics, entertainment, business, activism, the church, and other fields who can present both their personal experiences and a vision of effective leadership in their sphere of influence,” says Timothy Matovina, executive director of ILS and a professor in the Department of Theology.

“Our primary audience for the series is young leaders and our primary purpose is to attract speakers who inspire and inform these students about the possibilities, pitfalls, and principles they should know as leaders in our contemporary world. This lecture series will link Notre Dame with the ‘who’s who’ of Latino leaders in the United States.”

Latinos are the fastest-growing and youngest population in the American Catholic Church and U.S. Society. Guided by Limón and Matovina, Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies seeks to prepare transformative leaders in education, the professions, the economy, civic affairs, faith, and family life.

To support this mission, the College of Arts and Letters has launched an aggressive effort to bring to Notre Dame the best academics working in Latino studies. Among the first recruits are historian Mike Amezcua, sociologist Jennifer Jones, and theologian Peter Casarella.

Together with ILS, the College is also conducting a search this year for an endowed professor in Transformative Latino Leadership.

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