The history of the University Resources for Latinos (URL), now known as the Latino Resource Center (LRC) at Northern Illinois University traces its origins to 1978. The original Latino house was destroyed to make room for a parking structure. Several years later, upon student insistence, the URL was provided with a new location. In 1992, the URL shared its physical space with the International Student & Faculty Office at the Knetsch House. As the number of Latino student organizations increased, Dr. George Gutierrez, Director of the URL at the time, requested more space to accommodate the student groups. His persistence resulted in the removal of the International Student & Faculty Office leaving the URL with the entire Knetsch House for its Latino students in 1996.
The Knetsch House, however, required immediate repairs. Also, the goal was to combine the URL and Center for Latino and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) offices together under one building to provide more centralized services to Latinos at NIU. Thus, NIU administration proposed remodeling and expanding the house but NIU Latino students and URL staff were eager to have a new facility built. In addition, NIU administration realized that the cost of building a new facility was slightly similar to the cost of remodeling the existing structure. After proposals for remodeling were rejected and with student insistence and persuasion by the URL Director, the NIU administration made the decision to demolish the old Knetsch House and build a new facility in 1997. In the summer of 1999, the new Latino Center building was completed.
Today, the Latino Resource Center is a department in Student Affairs & Enrollment Management and serves as a central resource for Latinos on campus and in the community to assist and encourage them to persist at NIU. The LRC has three primary functions: to recruit Latino students to NIU, to increase the retention rate, and to develop programs that will enhance the Latino students’ academic, cultural, and social university experiences. The LRC hosts approximately 19 school site visits each year centered on presenting prospective students with information on different educational resources that the Center and NIU offers. The Center also hosts and cosponsors several educational, cultural, and social events for Latino Heritage Month, collaborating with student organizations and community agencies to implement events. In addition, the Center offers several mentoring programs aimed at assisting Latino students with the transition to university life.
During FY10, the Latino Resource Center hosted and cosponsored several educational, cultural, and social events for Latino Heritage Month held September 15-October 15 during the 2009-2010 year, collaborating with 31 student organizations, community agencies and department units to implement 19 events in the course of one month. A highlight of the month was the lecture from Rigoberta Menchú, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her human rights activism in Guatemala.
The LRC hosted eighteen school site visits in FY10 with a total of 885 visitors.The majority of the visitors indicated that they would consider Northern Illinois University as their first college choice. The large number of interested visitors are also reflected in the increasing number of visitors on the LRC website. A total of 20,741 visitors accessed the website in 2009-2010, with visitors viewing information on programs, services, and events.