Professor of History Dr. Philis M. Barragán Goetz was recently named a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.
It’s been a banner year for Texas A&M University-San Antonio Professor of History Dr. Philis M. Barragán Goetz. Not only was she named a 2021 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader (MEFL) by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. She also received 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) and was a finalist for the Ramirez Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book from the Texas Institute of Letters.
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. 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.
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.”
Mentoring the Next First-Generation Students
Dr. Barragán Goetzis one of 11 scholars from institutions across the United States recognized with the MEFL award – funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation – which supports junior faculty whose research focuses on contemporary American history, politics, culture and society. These 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.
“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.”
Exploring Culture and Identity
Each MEFL award recipient receives a 12-month stipend of $17,500 while working toward tenure to assist their continued scholarship. 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.
To help her reconstruct the story of escuelitas for her first book, Reading, Writing, and Revolution, 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.
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.