Texas A&M University-San Antonio Professor of History is named a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader

By University Communications

Thursday, 05 06 2021

SAN ANTONIO – Texas A&M University-San Antonio Professor of History Dr. Philis M. Barragán Goetz has been named a 2021 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader (MEFL) by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. 

Dr. Barragán Goetz is one of 11 scholars from institutions across the United States recognized with the award – funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation – which supports junior faculty whose research focuses on contemporary American history, politics, culture and society. These exceptional early-career professors are selected in part based on their commitment to creating an inclusive campus community and their mentoring of first-generation college students and those from underrepresented groups. According to the Citizens & Scholars release announcing the MEFL winners: “Through their own work to make their fields and institutions more inclusive, they are expanding civic discourse and preparing tomorrow’s citizens and scholars.” 

Each MEFL award recipient receives a 12-month stipend of $17,500 while working toward tenure to assist their continued scholarship. Established in 2015, the MEFL program has to date supported more than 50 junior faculty representing the next generation of leaders and scholars in the humanities and social sciences who are poised to play a significant role in shaping American higher education. 

“As a first-generation faculty member, Dr. Barragán Goetz is a visible role model of success for our student population at large, of whom the majority are the first in their families to attend college,” says Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, President of Texas A&M University-San Antonio. 

“We’re proud of the work by junior faculty members like Dr. Barragán Goetz,” says Mike O’Brien, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Balancing research, teaching and service is commendable in itself, but her commitment to creating an inclusive campus community for underrepresented students and scholars is testament to the caliber of Dr. Barragán Goetz’s leadership.” 

The MEFL award adds to the accolades Dr. Barragán Goetz has received this year. She recently was the honored recipient of the Tejas Foco Non-fiction Book Award from the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies for her book Reading, Writing, and Revolution: Escuelitas and the Emergence of a Mexican American Identity in Texas(University of Texas Press: May 2020). She was also a finalist for the Ramirez Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book from the Texas Institute of Letters.

To help her reconstruct the story of escuelitas, Dr. Barragán Goetz relied on primary documents and oral histories to examine the central role that these grassroots Spanish-language community schools have played in empowering and shaping Mexican American identity. Her book traces the proliferation and decline of these schools within the context of such events as the Mexican Revolution, immigration and modernization to show how escuelitas helped address unmet education needs and eventually pave the way for integration and inclusion into the broader public school system in the United States. To hear more from Dr. Barragán Goetz about her research for this book, you can listen to her Texas Public Radio Fronteras interview with Norma Martinez and her interview on the New Books Network podcast

In addition to her MEFL stipend, Dr. Barragán Goetz has received two research fellowships by the Texas State Historical Association in support of her research for her second book project-in-progress – The Borderlands of Inclusivity: Jovita González and the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. This will be the first full-length biography on González (1897-1983), a historian, folklorist, writer and teacher from Texas. 

As Dr. Barragán Goetz shares: “González’s multidisciplinary body of work, including her History master’s thesis, fiction, folklore studies and children’s literature, has established González as a pioneer in the fields of Mexican American history, border studies and Mexican American literature. An examination of her life, however, highlights more than the exceptional academic accomplishments of a Mexican American woman before WWII. It also illuminates the myriad ways women contributed to the Mexican American civil rights movement in the first half of the twentieth century (1920-1960).”

Dr. Barragán Goetz, who also serves as co-coordinator of A&M-San Antonio’s Women and Gender Studies Minor, received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches classes in Mexican American history, women's history, Texas history, and United States social and cultural history. She is also the University’s community liaison to the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum.

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About the Institute for Citizens & Scholars

The mission of the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation) is to prepare leaders and engage networks of people and organizations to meet urgent education challenges, with an overarching goal of shaping an informed, productively engaged and hopeful citizenry. Since the first Woodrow Wilson Fellowships were awarded at Princeton University in 1945, more than 27,000 fellows from the organization’s various programs – including 18 Nobel Laureates, 39 MacArthur Fellows, and many other award winners and thousands of everyday heroes – have contributed to creating a better educated, more thoughtful and more inclusive America. 

Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Established as a stand-alone university in 2009, Texas A&M University-San Antonio is a comprehensive four-year public university that reflects the culturally diverse, heritage-rich community it serves. Situated on nearly 700 acres in south San Antonio, A&M-San Antonio is a Military Embracing™ institution offering 30 undergraduate degrees and 14 graduate degrees to nearly 6,800 students. The University is home to the Henry G. Cisneros Institute for Emerging Leaders and the Cyber Engineering Technology/Cyber Security Research Center. A&M-San Antonio holds the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Military Times ranks the University No. 35 in the nation for “Best for Vets: Colleges.” Visit tamusa.edu for more information. #onamission