Hunter College appoints Afro-Latina as the director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Yomaira Figueroa joins the organization as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year.
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Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College, has announced that Yomaira Figueroa has been appointed director of CENTRO, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
CENTRO was founded in 1973 and “is the largest university-based research institute, library, and archive dedicated to the Puerto Rican experience in the United States.”
“We are so pleased that CENTRO will be led by Yomaira Figueroa, a talented historian and teacher with a body of research worthy of this important institute,” said President Raab.
“After a nationwide search, we found that she was far and away the most impressive leader, and we’re confident she will bring CENTRO to new heights during its 50th year and beyond,” she continued.
Figueroa is an Afro-Puerto Rican author, teacher, and scholar; born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey. She is a first-generation high school and college graduate.
Figueroa earned her B.A. in English, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
After getting her B.A., she went on to get her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley.
Figueroa is currently an Associate Professor of English at Michigan State University.
“CUNY and CENTRO are fortunate to be able to welcome Yomaira C. Figueroa, an accomplished scholar who has advanced our understanding of Puerto Rican history, literature, and activism, and a dedicated educator with a passion for empowering her students,” said Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Chancellor.
“Dr. Figueroa will take the helm at an exciting period in the evolution of CENTRO, which will begin its second half-century by expanding its archive, library and exhibition space and its presence in El Barrio, one of New York’s most vibrant Puerto Rican communities,” he added.
In addition to her work as a professor, Figuero is the author of the award-winning book, Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mapping of Afro-Atlantic Literature and the upcoming book,The Survival of a People. She also has work published in journals such as Hypatia, Decolonization.
Figueroa is also the founder of the MSU Womxn of Color Initiative, the Mentoring Underrepresented Students in English recruitment program (MUSE), the Digital Humanities project Electric Marronage, and #ProyectoPalabrasPR.
She will take over the new role from Interim Director Yarimar Bonilla. Bonilla was CENTRO’s first female director and will be joining the Princeton University Effron Center for the Study of America as a professor.