Letter From the Chair

Submitted by Casey Colvin on

The current pandemic ravaging the world has been a reminder not only of the fragility of life, but also of the rampant inequity in our society. Today, more than one hundred thousand lives have already been lost to Covid-19 in the United States. Black communities, along with Indigenous and Latinx communities, have been disproportionately affected by this virus, with many working essential jobs without being provided sufficient protection. Meanwhile, another kind of pandemic—that of structural racism—has devastated Black communities for centuries.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Washington stands in solidarity with Black communities throughout the United States and the world. Read our full Statement of Solidarity in EnglishEspañol and Português

As the academic year draws to a close, we reflect on a period that has brought extraordinary changes to the way we interact with our students and our community. In these trying times, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of my colleagues—the faculty and staff of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies—for their patience, dedication, and empathy as we work to support our students in this period of crisis. I have been especially heartened by the incredible response of everyone in the department to the challenges of our recent move to online instruction.

While we will not be hosting our normal graduation ceremony, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our graduates, whose hard work and dedication we celebrate at this time of the year.  You may have also heard that one of our own, Chiara DeSantis — whose accomplishments are chronicled in a recent article on our department website — was named to the prestigious Husky 100.  Among our graduates, we are also proud to have representing the department eight honors students and a Phi Beta Kappa nominee.  Turning to our graduate program, I want to offer my warmest congratulations to our two graduating PhD students, Emmy Herland and Jesús Hidalgo, and to the three students who will be finishing their MA degree this quarter:  Ilce González, Tom Grizzle, and Kallie Sandell.

To our graduates, we wish you all the best as you embark upon the next phase of your professional life, to our students, we pledge to continue to provide the rich intellectual experience that you have come to expect from us, and to our friends in the community, we thank you for your continued support during what is for all of us an especially challenging time.

Donald Gilbert-Santamaría
Associate Professor and Chair