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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: April 28, 2003
Volume 38, Number 18

LLSS achieves department status in COE

Laurie Mellas Ramirez

As far back as 1983 faculty in the College of Education (COE) envisioned what the UNM Board of Regents recently deemed the Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies (LLSS).

The first COE entity to achieve departmental status since eight disbanded in 1992 during restructuring, LLSS is the result of years of planning, dedication and sheer vision.

“Some of us wanted to try something different,” said Ann Nihlen, chair.

“We wanted to have space for faculty who were interested in focusing on issues of diversity and multiculturalism across interdisciplinary lines,” said Leroy I. Ortiz, one of the key players who submitted an earlier plan for a multicultural unit to former COE Dean David Colton. Others who were instrumental included Guillermina Engelbrect, Richard van Dongen and Marlis Mann.

In 1993, bilingual education, language arts and educational thought and sociocultural studies merged, along with a few faculty from other units. Secondary and middle school education and social studies joined soon after.

In 1996, an LLSS division was formed, directed by Leroy Ortiz until 1999. Bill Cline led for two years and then Nihlen was named chair in 2000.

“In 1998 we started to become a department. Now we have one mission statement and one set of goals for students, one prefix instead of three or four, we have one place in the schedule of classes, one degree, not four; and faculty meet monthly for governance issues,” Nihlen said.

The department offers masters and doctoral programs focused on language and literacy, bilingual education, language acquisition and specialized studies in the social cultural foundations of education.
Fully one-half of the faculty is minority, representing communities throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and five are Native American. Students come from around the world.

Community outreach around the state, particularly to schools and tribes, is a vital component of LLSS. As well, links with other colleges and interdisciplinary projects are a priority.

“We have a lot of affiliations both within COE and without. Students must acquire 12 hours outside the department,” said Nihlen, who has an anthropology degree. “We want our students to have different kinds of experiences. Faculty from all over the world serve on their dissertation committees.”

LLSS is developing a Web page, created a new brochure and enticed Canadian Ivan Eagletail, a Tsuii Tina native, to paint a distinctive mural to mark its space in Hokona Hall. More than 100 people attended a recent celebration marking its official status.

For more information, call 277-0437.