June 14, 2023 — UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy announced the appointment of Monica Perales as the associate vice provost for the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC). She begins her duties September 1.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Perales to our UTSA community,” said Espy. “She brings unique insight through her wealth of experience, deeply informed understanding of Texas’ rich cultural tapestry and appreciation for our mission.
“I am also grateful to the search committee and committee chairs, Glenn Martínez and Veronica Rodriguez, for their outstanding work to identify such an innovative professional to lead the ITC into the future,” Espy continued. “Dr. Perales is an imaginative innovator with an impressive track record in public history and experiential learning. I look forward to pathways she will create for our students and community to engage and benefit.”
Perales is an associate professor at the University of Houston, where she has served on the faculty since 2004. In addition to her faculty appointment, she serves as director of the Center for Public History. The center is responsible for creating collaborative and investigative projects with university and community partners to generate both local and global historical research. Under Perales’ leadership, the center created 22 internships in various cultural institutions, historical consulting firms and local non-profit organizations to prepare graduate and undergraduate students for careers in the public humanities.
Perales has served on numerous committees at the University of Houston, including being named to the university president’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee. She co-chaired the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Strategic Plan Management Committee. She administered an endowed lecture series that brought together Houston professionals, community leaders, and others to consider historical, social and cultural perspectives directly related to the decisions they make. Perales has served on the board of Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is also a member of the Foodways Texas advisory board, an organization dedicated to preserving, promoting, and celebrating the state’s diverse food cultures.
Perales will also have a faculty appointment in the new UTSA Interdisciplinary School for Engagement in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. She is an award-winning educator, author and historian of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her research explores questions of race, gender, labor, and foodways in Texas. Her first book, “Smeltertown: Making and Remembering a Southwest Border Community” (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) received the 2010 Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book (North America) from the Urban History Association and was a finalist for the 2010 William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America.
Perales earned her Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University. She earned a master’s degree in history and a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in history from the University of Texas at El Paso.
“I am thrilled to be joining the team at UTSA and the Institute of Texan Cultures at this pivotal moment,” Perales said. “I believe in the power of the public humanities to bridge divides and help us find common ground. It is important for people to see themselves in our institutions and to create spaces where we can learn from one another. The ITC is where this happens — it elevates our diverse cultures and shows us what Texas has been and can still become.”
“I have spent time as a researcher working in the ITC’s amazing collections,” she added. I’m excited about the opportunity to continue the ITC’s great work to make these stories accessible to audiences of all ages. It is a privilege to be a part of a talented team dedicated to preserving and celebrating these diverse stories and leading the ITC into the future.”
In 2021, UTSA embarked on the ITC Centennial 2068 Community Stakeholder Visioning Process, a robust community engagement initiative to envision the future of the Institute of Texan Cultures. Now in the evaluative phase, the process has engaged community and industry experts to thoroughly review all aspects of the possible scenarios reported for the future of the ITC.
The ITC is a valued resource for those interested in learning about the rich mosaic of cultures of the Lone Star state—past, present and future. As part of UTSA, the institute plays a role in the university’s community engagement initiatives by developing quality, accessible resources for educators and lifelong learners on cultural heritage topics. Since its opening in 1968, the ITC has been a place of dialogue and discovery, contributing to essential statewide and national conversations.