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CUNY Dominican Studies Institute

History

The Dominican Studies Institute of the City University of New York (CUNY DSI) came into being through the agency of the Council of Dominican Educators, community activists, and other academics from CUNY, to address the lack of reliable academic information about Dominicans available to students, scholars, and the community at large in the United States. CUNY DSI is the first and only university-based research institution in the United States focused on the study of the Dominican experience.

The Institute began as a pilot project in academic year 1992-1993 with a planning grant of $78,372 made available by the Chancellor of the City University of New York at the time, Dr. Ann Reynolds. The grant followed a period of advocacy by then Trustee Gladys Carrión, Esq., who had embraced the idea of establishing an institute in CUNY devoted to Dominican studies, and had taken upon herself the task of garnering support for the project among CUNY Trustees and the University’s leadership.

We are deeply indebted to academic colleagues in the fields of Puerto Rican Studies, African American Studies, and Foreign Languages and Literatures, who were instrumental in the establishment of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and never wavered in their support for the creation in the academy of the field of Dominican Studies:

The late Dr. Frank Bonilla
Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies and Co-founder of IUPLR

Dr. Gabriel Haslip-Viera,  
Professor and Chair, Sociology, The City College of New York

Dr. Donald H. Smith
Professor Emeritus, Baruch College

Dr. Elizabeth Starcevic
Professor of Spanish
Foreign Languages and Literatures Division of Humanities and the Arts
The City College of New York


From its inception, the Institute's impact was significant because of the academic vacuum it filled and the educational needs it met. Thanks to the support it found among the different constituencies in the University, including students of Dominican descent, the original grant was renewed during the following academic year (1993-1994) in the amount of $100,000.

By February 22, 1994, CUNY DSI had met the conditions required by the CUNY Board of Trustees to approve it unanimously as an integral component of the City University of New York, and Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant was appointed as its first director. Then President of Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, Dr. Isaura Santiago-Santiago, had generously agreed to release Dr. Torres-Saillant from his duties in the English Department at Hostos so that he could devote his time to developing and establishing the CUNY DSI at The City College of New York.

CUNY DSI has contributed enormously to increasing the visibility of the City University of New York and The City College of New York, now regarded as the leading institutions in the field of Dominican Studies. The Institute carries out pioneering, multidisciplinary scholarly research on Dominicans in the United States and about the Dominican Republic itself.