Tufts has hired Julián Cancino as the next Latino Center director. Cancino began his role at Tufts on Sept. 12.
The hiring concludes a summer-long, nationwide search to replace former Latino Center Director Rubén Stern, according to Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon. Stern retired from the center in July after 24 years at Tufts.
Cancino emphasized that he hopes to make the Latino Center a space on campus for students with multiple, overlapping identities.
“I want the center to be a home away from home — a safe space for the Latino, Latina and Latinx community,” Cancino said. “I want to bring an intersectional approach to race, to ethnicity, nationality and sexual orientation, and gender to student services at Tufts.”
McMahon said that Cancino is able to handle the unique demands of the Latino Center director role.
“One of the responsibilities in the center director position is to think about programs and [student involvement]. We also need leadership presence in the space … Julián clearly has that ability,” McMahon said.
Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences James Glaser and Dean of the School of Engineering Jianmin Qu explained the hiring process in a Sept. 13 letter to the editor.
“Over the summer, a search committee conducted a thorough national search to identify the most talented and committed candidates for this important leadership role; Latino Center peer leaders and two Group of Six directors sat on the committee itself,” they wrote. “Of the 74 candidates who applied, eight had phone interviews with the search committee. Four were then offered campus visits, and two of these candidates elected to come to campus for a full day interview process.”
Cancino said he was an undocumented student during his college career, and this experience can inform his role as Latino Center director, especially as students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs currently face an uncertain future.
“Being undocumented is an identity and an experience that has shaped the way I see the world. When you have nothing left, opportunities open up,” Cancino said. “If DACA is taken away, [we will still] have ourselves, our community and our allies.”
Martinez, the director of the Women’s Center, sat on the search committee involved with Cancino’s hiring and said Cancino’s background will make him a particularly useful resource to students.
“I feel like Cancino is very committed to getting to know students… he can be someone [the students] can talk to,” they said. “He brings a lot of energy and perspectives … he doesn’t come from a higher end background … [so] he will bring his authenticity to this work.”
Cancino said one of his goals is to empower students to create change.
“I want to hear from the students … at the same time, I want to give a sense of direction to the students to make change through leadership,” he said.
McMahon said Cancino was distinguished by his leadership style.
“One of the things that stood out … was his tremendous ability to work collaboratively with student leaders, with change makers and campus planners, and to just think about ways to pull enough Latinx students and ways to introduce dialogue and support in their circle,” she said.
McMahon also emphasized that while the search committee spoke with many qualified candidates, Cancino was a great fit for the position.
“I feel that we are very, very fortunate to have [Cancino] come to Tufts. We had extraordinary candidates in this process,” she said.