La Casa Latina’s History

The year 1994 represents a turning point for the Latino Community at the University Of Pennsylvania; at this time a group of faculty and staff established the Latino Faculty and Staff Association. That same year, the Latino student groups started meeting and learned to unify their similar ideas; they formed the Latino Student Coalition in 1996. During the spring and summer of 1998, a group of faculty, staff, and students worked to propose a center whose objective was to increase the presence of Latino community at the University of Pennsylvania. In summer 1998 the two groups, the Latino Faculty and Staff Association and the Latino Student Coalition, came together for the purpose of designing The University of Pennsylvania Center for Hispanic Excellence. It was to be a comprehensive resource center for Latino students of the four undergraduate schools. The proposal for the center was presented to President Judith Rodin on October 30, 1998. It was presented in the name of The Latino Faculty and Staff, the Latino Student Coalition and the Latino Alumni Society. On September 21st, 1999 President Dr. Judith Rodin inaugurated the Center for Hispanic Excellence. Today the Center for Hispanic Excellence, also known as La Casa Latina, welcomes anyone interested in Latino culture and language, as well as the surrounding community of Philadelphia.

The Center has, and will always be, indebted to the core founders that include staff, faculty, students and alumni. Without the core founders’ persistent focus and perpetual dedication to our organization, the Center of Hispanic Excellence would not be possible. Let it be known that we recognize the following people for their generous contributions of time and energy:

Gilbert F. Casellas, L’77
Phillip de Chavez, M’99
Steven Guillen, M’99
Hilda Luiggi, M.S.
Luz Marin,C’01
Jorge J. Santiago, Ph.D.
Lilvia Soto, Ph.D.

For more details about the history of La Casa Latina please click here for our historical timeline.