WSU’s Ethnic Studies Department officially fills positions

Carolyn Hauschild

The Ethnic Studies Department’s search for a faculty member finally ended with the hiring of Dr. Tara Lopez from Northern New Mexico College. The program was always meant to have two faculty members. Until Lopez’s hiring, only one of those spots had been filled by current Chairperson Dr. Kim Park Nelson. Nelson was hired just last year.

Erich Schweitzer, News Reporter

Winona State University’s Ethnic Studies Department, housed in the college of liberal arts, has finally filled its vacant professor position with its hiring of Dr. Tara López.

López will be joining the Ethnic Studies program this coming fall. The program, which has been going on at the university for six years now, was always meant to have two faculty members. Until López’s hiring, only one of those spots had been filled by current Chairperson Dr. Kim Park Nelson. Park Nelson was hired just last year.

According to Park Nelson, the university was unable to hire for the other position last year, so it was left vacant until now. She was also the chair for the search committee that found their newest faculty member.

López was born and raised in New Mexico, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history and Spanish from the University of New Mexico, and will be coming to Winona State from Northern New Mexico College. López also has her master’s and completed her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Manchester.

Dr. Linda D’Amico, a global studies and world languages professor, said the strongest three applicants were invited to interview for the Ethnic Studies teaching position.

The search committee did training with the three applicants, Park Nelson said, which also included working with current Ethnic Studies classes at Winona State. The applicants did a mock teaching presentation with the “Intro to Ethnic Studies” course via Zoom as part of the training. They also did a research presentation, both of which were to relate to their field of study.

“[The teaching demonstration] helps us understand a bit better what their person’s teaching philosophy is,” Park Nelson said.

Dr. Weidong Zhang, another global studies professor who has taught at Winona State for 14 years, shared that during hiring process to fill the Ethnic Studies position, applicants were also asked to submit a “statement of diversity.”

“There wasn’t any of this kind of thing a few years ago as far as I remember,” Zhang said.

This is a recent development, according to Zhang, to display applicants’ alignment with Winona State’s commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence.

López will begin teaching at the university this fall. Although the teaching schedule is yet to be finalized for the upcoming semester, the department is very excited for the arrival of their new professor. Park Nelson believes López will do well and hopes she will “develop some new courses” related to her specific area of study.