Few can boast as many accomplishments as Panamanian artist Rubén Blades. With 17 Grammy nominations, including nine wins, and a stint as Panama’s minister for tourism from 2004 to 2009 already under his belt, Blades will now add the title of scholar-in-residence to his resume.
It’s his musical and political backgrounds — Blades even launched a campaign for the Panamanian presidency in 1994 — that persuaded Steinhardt Dean Dominic Brewer that Blades would be well-suited for the job.
“Rubén is a champion for harnessing your passion and serving your community to create real political change, which is a message that resonates strongly with the NYU [Steinhardt] community,” Brewer said in a press release.
Blades will spend his time at NYU collaborating with the Faculty First-Look program, an organization that spearheads diversity efforts at Steinhardt.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to advance scholarship on music, social activism and Latin American culture with the NYU Steinhardt community,” Blades said in the press release. “To have information and not to share it is to waste knowledge. It will be a privilege to connect with students who have such passion for the causes they believe in. I hope my experiences can help students and other NYU community members consider the broader implications of inequality in Latin America — and the wider world — to harness energy and ideas for the social good.”
CAS senior and President of Mexican Student Association Andrés Guerrero was excited to hear Blades’ appointment as a representative of the Latin community.
“The fact that Rubén Blades will be a part of Steinhardt’s Faculty First-Look program — an initiative to recruit more faculty of color into higher education — is amazing news,” Guerrero said. “Many students in the Latino community have expressed the need for more faculty of color beyond just the Department of Social and Cultural Awareness. Hopefully, he will also be open to connecting with Latino clubs on campus.”
CAS junior Jailene Peralta and president of Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad on campus, is also eager to see what Blades’ appointment will mean for Steinhardt.
“Mr. Blades is an emblem of Latinidad as he fuses two great aspects of our identity: our love of music and our desire for social change,” Peralta said. “We are joyful to see that NYU is inviting scholars of diverse backgrounds to advance much-needed conversations.”
Blades will kick off his appointment with a discussion about his impact on music and politics on Oct. 29 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.
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