In 1988, five Michigan State University Deans were appointed by then-Provost David Scott as members of the “Task Force on the Hispanic American Institute,” or “Hispanic Research Task Force,” as it was also known. The Task Force members, Gwen Andrew, Joe Darden, John Eadie, Judith Lanier, and Ralph Smuckler, were keenly aware of the emerging interest, particularly in the Midwest, of Latina/os’ social, political, and historical contributions. Together they formally looked at the University’s need for a Latina/o-based research institute.
In November 1988, the Task Force officially recommended that a Hispanic research center be established at MSU. The Task Force identified five primary issues that the newly-formed Hispanic research institute should focus on: employment development, education, political empowerment, health and family welfare, and cultural awareness and enrichment. These topic areas, the Task Force wrote, would “provide the basis for establishing a comprehensive program of research to inform policies, interventions, and teaching.”
Four months after the Task Force made its recommendation to the Provost, and after MSU’s Executive Committee of the Academic Council endorsed the creation of a “Midwest Center for Latino Research,” the Institute was created on Feb. 7, 1989. The Task Force further recommended that the newly-formed institute be named for Dr. Julian Samora, a pioneer in Mexican American research whose scholarly works on Midwestern Latina/os were already nationally recognized. In November 1989, JSRI held its inaugural event, which is the temporal reference point for celebrating its anniversary.
Samora, a co-founder of the Southwest Council of La Raza, which later became the National Council of La Raza and today is UnidosUS, believed that research was inadequate if the results, efforts, and recognition were not shared with the broader community. He was a professor of sociology at MSU and Notre Dame, and is recognized for having supported and mentored more than 50 Latina/os graduate students in a broad range of fields during his lifetime. Many of those men and women are, today, noted scholars and researchers carrying on the scholastic legacy and tradition of mentorship.
Since its early days, JSRI has worked closely with community, state, and philanthropic organizations, as well as developing research ties with academic institutions in the Midwest and beyond. In efforts to improve the status of Latina/os in Michigan, JSRI has worked with the Cristo Rey Church, Cristo Rey Community Center, the Michigan Partnership for Economic Development Assistance, the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Department of Commerce, El Concilio, Farmworker Legal Services, Michigan Migrant Legal Aid, the Michigan Interagency Migrant Services Committee, and many other public and community organizations. Academic ties were held with the Midwest Consortium for Latino Research, the Mexico-US Consortium for Academic Cooperation, the Council on Western Hemispheric Studies, the Michigan Educational Opportunity Fund, and the Michigan Nutrition Network.
JSRI seeks to develop research that is of practical use to Latina/o-informed groups and individuals in the Midwest, as well as in other parts of the nation. To that end, the Institute produces a variety of publications each year and makes these reports readily available to the public via its website, These publications include demographic summaries and analyses for Michigan and the Midwest; working papers presenting preliminary findings from JSRI research projects; Latina/os in Michigan, a series of research reports based on data collected by JSRI researchers; and Cifras, a series of statistical briefs. In addition, JSRI has published several books focusing on Latina/o issues. The Institute also keeps the public informed of ongoing activities and opportunities through its biannual newsletter, NEXO.  
Another important contribution of JSRI is its commitment to preserving the history and experiences of Latina/os in the Midwest. With the MSU Museum, JSRI has sponsored exhibits and symposia, “Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement,” “Settling Out, Settling Down, and Settling In,” and for its 25th Anniversary, the “Latina/o Auto Workers.” Over the years, the Institute has conducted oral history projects with the goal of documenting the Latina/o experience in Michigan.  In 1998, in a project entitled “Mexican Voices, Michigan Lives,” JSRI researchers collected 19 oral histories documenting the Mexican/Chicano experiences in Michigan since the 1920s.  Currently, another oral history project, entitled “Oral History of Latina/os in Michigan,” preserves the life accounts of Michigan Latina/os.
JSRI continues its work to foster research-informed transformative practices. In July 2009 it hosted a Statewide Summit on Latina/o Issues, which brought together more than 80 persons representing different institutional sectors and geographic areas of Michigan for a one-day event to identify and prioritize the challenges facing Latina/os in Michigan. In November 2009, it celebrated its 20th anniversary by organizing a national conference that showcased the research of scholars on the experiences of and challenges faced by Latina/os. It did so again for its 25th anniversary, and is currently planning one for its 30th anniversary.
In November 2009, JSRI hosted the first organizational meeting of the North Central Education/Extension and Research Activity (NCERA 216), titled “Latina/os and Immigrants in Midwestern Communities.” NCERA 216 is an interstate initiative that encourages and fosters multidisciplinary research, education, and outreach efforts on Latina/os and immigrants in the region. This initiative seeks to establish and maintain regional linkages among researchers and outreach specialists, promote community development, and develop plans to identify and obtain funding for single and multi-state projects relating to Latina/os and immigrants. JSRI is planning to host a meeting of NCERA 216, now in its 10th year, at its 30th anniversary celebration conference.
Through its research, community outreach, and student mentorship, JSRI continues its commitment to the original mandates of its founders, as well as the spirit and ethos of Julian Samora himself. The Institute’s focus on research-informed transformative practices has been, and continues to be integral to its contributions to Latina/o communities, Michigan, the Midwest, and the nation. As the Latina/o population in the Midwest and the U.S. continues to grow, more and more people are recognizing that the future of the region and the nation is intimately connected to the experiences of Latina/os. JSRI has been holding a series of Black Brown Dialogues to promote mutual awareness and collaboration in shaping a better society.  In order to improve the future of Latina/os and the nation as a whole, JSRI continues to collect and disseminate research that contributes to the improvement of Latina/o lives, support and assist community outreach projects, and mentor future Latina/o leaders and scholars.    
JSRI will hold its 30th anniversary celebration conference at the East Lansing Marriott on October 31 – November 2, 2019. The theme of the conference is “Latina/os and the Renewal of U.S. Democracy.” The conference will include scholarly panels and presentations, keynote speakers, exhibits, films, a music concert, and an attendee reception. It will also feature a graduate student paper competition, with the author of the winning entry presenting at the conference. The deadline for the submission of paper abstracts and panel descriptions is July 1, 2019, and that for the graduate student paper competition is August 2, 2019. All submissions should be made electronically. Please submit them to For more information please call 517.432.1317. Information is also available at