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UB faculty members named to second class of fellows of SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute

By SUE WUETCHER

Published March 5, 2019

“Our university will soon encounter a great deal of difficulty attracting and retaining top Latino students if Latinos are not present to an equal degree in advanced faculty positions and upper administration.”
Justin Read, associate professor and chair
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Two UB faculty members have been named to the second class of fellows at SUNY’s Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI), an initiative that develops and supports the next generation of executive-level Hispanic/Latinx leaders across the SUNY system.

headshot of Oscar Gomez Duarte.

Oscar Gomez-Duarte

Justin Read.

Justin Read

Oscar Gomez-Duarte, associate professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Pediatrics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, and Justin Read, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese and chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, are among 14 faculty and staff members in leadership positions at 10 SUNY institutions to be selected to take part in six- or 12-month fellowships at HLI.

Over the course of the program, fellows — who come from home institutions that range from community colleges to Research 1 institutions like UB and hold positions that include provost, chief academic officer and chief business officer — will participate in individualized mentoring, and assessment and development programs to support their success.

“It is of upmost importance that our students feel welcome and represented when they join our campuses, and ensuring that our faculty and staff are as diverse as our student body is a way to achieve that goal,” says SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson. “The Hispanic Leadership Institute provides its fellows with the skills to achieve success in their own professional lives, but also how to be a role model to their peers and students.

“The groundwork laid through the institute is crucial and will have a positive effect on the lives of students and our campuses for generations to come.”

Read agrees, noting his core missions as chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures are “to enhance cultural diversity and educate engaged citizens of the world.”

“As we speak, the number of Latino students entering universities both statewide and nationally is growing extremely rapidly, and Latino students are projected to comprise some 25 percent of the student body within a matter of years,” he says. “As a Latino, I’m very concerned about the lack of Latinos and other people of color at the upper levels of UB.

“Our university will soon encounter a great deal of difficulty attracting and retaining top Latino students if Latinos are not present to an equal degree in advanced faculty positions and upper administration,” he says.

“So I welcomed joining the HLI not only for my own career advancement as a Latino, but also as an opportunity to help in efforts to increase diversity at UB — and SUNY more generally — at every level.”

Gomez-Duarte says he wanted to be part of HLI “to have the opportunity to share information with my peers at other institutions, to learn from mentors in high-level leadership positions, and to learn new leadership skills that I can incorporate in my health care, research and teaching environment.” 

Read explains that the HLI “has been fairly intense so far,” starting with a one-day retreat in January, followed immediately by a three-day, SUNY-wide leadership retreat.

The agenda continues through the end of this June, he says, with monthly videoconferences primarily to discuss core concepts of leadership, as well as mentorship, and additional retreats in April in Albany and in June in New York City, where fellows will meet established Latino leaders in person.

“We have been asked to identify a mentor in upper administration and work with that person, as well as a role model in society at large,” Read says. “We also have to prepare a published article by the end of the program in some area of academic life in which see ourselves becoming a leader. Naturally, my area of focus will be the future of foreign-language programs and the humanities.”

And a large component of the HLI is informal networking with other Latino leaders, Read says, “as we learn to transform our institutions in the rapidly changing environment of academia.”

The program, Gomez-Duarte adds, is based on active participation, conversations and exchange of ideas related to leadership. “The activities are engaging, creative and interactive, and the participants are supportive, collegial and friendly,” he says.

Gomez-Duarte joined the UB faculty in 2016 as chief of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division at the Jacobs School and as director of the Infectious Diseases Service, Oishei Children’s Hospital. He oversees medical education, translational research, patient care services, infection control and antibiotic stewardship programs in the Department of Pediatrics.

He established and leads the International Enteric Vaccines Research Program (IEVRP), a global health research program focused on the epidemiology, pathogenesis and development of vaccines for childhood gastrointestinal infections. The program is dedicated to biomedical research, scientific training and international collaborations in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the U.S.

His work with IEVRP includes developing rapid diagnostic tools for diarrheal disease surveillance, identifying the most prevalent diarrheal pathogens and detecting emergent intestinal pathogens.

Gomez-Duarte and colleagues also are working on vaccine development for pediatric infectious diseases associated with a high burden of disease. A long-term goal of these studies is to facilitate public health interventions for managing and preventing common infectious diseases in children.

Read, a Mexican-American who grew up in Southern California, joined the UB faculty in 2002. His research focuses on culture and politics in Latin America from 1850 to present, particularly in Argentina and Brazil. More specifically, he is interested in how alterations of space and urbanization combined with transformations of citizenship — and the lack thereof — as seen in literature, philosophy, and architecture.

He is finishing a book manuscript, “Negation Space: Power, Citizenship, and Urbanization in Buenos Aires, 1850-1950,” and preparing another on Brazilian modernism from 1950-1990.

Read is co-founder of the Lake Erie Latin American Cultural Studies group (LELACS), a consortium of Latin American studies programs now comprised of some 15-20 universities and colleges across Western and Central New York.

He also has served on the board of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center.