RC Spanish Faculty Member and PALMA Founder Cristhian Espinoza-Pino Receives LSA Outstanding Contribution to Undergraduate Education Award
The staff and faculty at the Residential College are proud to announce that Cristhian Espinoza-Pino, member of the Spanish Language faculty and the founder and advisor to Proyecto Avance: Latino Mentorship Association (PALMA), is the recipient of the Individual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, bestowed by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts for the year 2020. The nomination demonstrates Cristhian’s reliability and authenticity, and that he goes far above and beyond the call of duty by providing his students with highly individualized attention. One student writes that his “welcoming demeanor, high expectations, kindness to his students, and his love for the subject enthralls every student who walks into his classroom,” and another writes that he allows students to “bridge the gap between theory and practice in very real time,” providing context for the classroom and for work in the community. Cristhian founded PALMA (described below) in 2003 to address a growing need for English and Spanish-speaking tutors for Latinx children in Washtenaw County. The Individual Award for Outstanding Contribution to Undergraduate Education award, as communicated in July 2020 by LSA Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Timothy McKay, recognizes Cristhian’s paid and unpaid work mentoring students as tutors, thereby shepherding PALMA’s outreach and impact throughout Washtenaw County.
This award carries a monetary prize which will be presented to Cristhian as soon as President Schlissel’s budget restrictions are lifted.
Tim McKay says of the spirit of this award: "Recognition of our mission as educators is one of the highest priorities of the college. As you may know, the University of Michigan is consistently at the very top of the various rankings for the quality of the undergraduate academic experience. As the primary site for undergraduate teaching, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts drives that success. Contributions such as yours define our excellence, and we are grateful for and proud of your commitment and creativity."
Cristhian joins several other RC faculty recipients of this award from past years including Katri Ervamaa (2019), Laura Thomas (2015), Dominique Butler-Borruat (2011), Fred Peters (2009), and Mabel Rodríguez (2008 and 2003).
Cristhian Espinoza-Pino, Lecturer IV in the Spanish program at Residential College, has a Masters of Arts in Geology and a Masters in Applied Economics. His responsibilities include designing the pre-proficiency course RCLANG 314, advanced language seminars with a focus on socio-political issues (RCLANG 324), serving as the faculty advisor to PALMA, and facilitating sessions on political social issues related to the Hispanic community in the United States (RCLANG 294). His research and teaching interests include: economics, political economy in Latin America, education and language acquisition. Other related research fields are social issues such as globalization, migration, human rights, income inequality, and discrimination within Latin America and the United States.
PALMA (Proyecto Avance: Latino Mentoring Association), now in its 17th year, is a twice-weekly tutoring group that helps Latinx students in the Ann Arbor area with their schoolwork, and helps adults with basic English as a Second Language instruction. About 75 U-M student volunteers meet with over 100 Latinx community members on a twice-weekly basis at the Ann Arbor Downtown Library. In 2018, PALMA was recognized by the Ann Arbor District Library for its 15th year of building community and supporting the Latinx community.