Fresno State’s recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month continues today, Sept. 16 — the 204th anniversary of Mexican Independence Day — with “Bienvenida,” celebrating the independence of the Americas.

This and several other events mark the university’s Cross Cultural Celebration to honor campus diversity during the national observance Sept. 15-Oct. 13.

The  Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association, which advocates for Latino student issues, presents the free, public Bienvenida (welcome) event from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cesar Chavez Monument in the Peace Garden with music, dancers, mariacheros, a resource fair, a raffle and free tacos.

Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, the university’s first Latina vice president for Administration and chief financial officer at Fresno State when she came here in 2004, will speak at noon followed by Dr. Frank Lamas, Fresno State’s first Latino vice president for student affairs, who joined the campus in July.

The event covers the Americas, beginning with the independence of the United States on July 4, 1776 through the September 19, 1981 independence of Belize.

On Sept. 15, four Central American countries celebrated their independence: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico celebrates the start of its fight for independence from Spain on September 16, 1810.

Congress established Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to reflect on the history, culture and contributions of Americans with cultural ties to Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Fresno State is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the United States Department of Agriculture. Fall 2013 enrollment for Latino students was 9,367, making up 40.6 percent of Fresno State’s 23,060 students. Undergraduate Latino students starting at Fresno State as full-time freshmen in fall 2007 are reporting a six-year graduation rate of 46.2 percent, according to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

As of fall 2013, 17.9 percent of university employees (392 people) identified as Latino, including Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. This includes 150 faculty, 22 managers and 220 staff. (Source: OIE Fall 2013 Databook)

A Hispanic-Serving Institution is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as a non-profit institution that has at least 25% Hispanic full-time equivalent enrollment.

For Hispanic Heritage Month, the Fresno State Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute is coordinating several events, including:

  • Independence of the Americas exhibit, Sept. 15-19 in the Henry Madden Library
  • Más Rudas, a Chicana feminist art collective based in San Antonio, Texas, presenting “Ruda Phat” at 1 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Madden Library, Room 2206.
  • “Welcoming Diversity: A Prejudice Reduction Workshop,” 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26 in the Vintage Room.
  • “With Conviction” film screening at 1 p.m. Oct. 7 with a talk by director and Dulce Garcia, a health educator, in Music Building, Room 160.

See full schedule of Hispanic Heritage Month events.

For more information, contact the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute at 559.278.6946.

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