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Latin American and Caribbean Scholars Program to Shut Down After Harvard Revokes Affiliation

In an email obtained by The Crimson, Angélica M. Natera, the executive director of Laspau, wrote in January to the Harvard Office of the Provost that the organization will shut down without its affiliate status.
In an email obtained by The Crimson, Angélica M. Natera, the executive director of Laspau, wrote in January to the Harvard Office of the Provost that the organization will shut down without its affiliate status. By Julian J. Giordano
By Miles J. Herszenhorn and Leah J. Lourenco, Crimson Staff Writers

Laspau, a Harvard-affiliated nonprofit that promotes higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean, will shut down after the University decided to revoke its affiliate status.

Harvard co-founded Laspau in 1966 as the Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities to provide undergraduate students from Latin America with grants to study in the United States. The nonprofit, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, now provides support to institutions of higher learning in Latin America and the Caribbean through educational programs for students and faculty.

In an email obtained by The Crimson, Angélica M. Natera, the executive director of Laspau, wrote in January to the Harvard Office of the Provost that the organization’s board of trustees “determined that without the Harvard affiliation, Laspau will be unable to fulfill its mission and serve its stakeholders.”

“On October 1, 2023, Laspau will begin the process of winding down its operations and concluding its inspirational journey of serving the Americas and representing Harvard,” Natera wrote in the email.

Harvard University spokesperson Jason A. Newton confirmed in a statement to The Crimson that the University is revoking Laspau’s status as a Harvard affiliate.

“This is the result of a very long and thoughtful process that ultimately ended in the decision that Harvard and Laspau’s missions did not align,” Newton wrote. “However, Harvard continues to have deep and wide engagement in Latin America.”

Natera underscored Laspau’s close collaboration with Harvard in the email to the Provost’s Office.

“The close connection with Harvard has been critical to Laspau’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as with U.S. universities,” Natera wrote. “Harvard has been the institutional home for Laspau staff, and the partnership has contributed to Laspau’s success in building institutions and in advancing teaching and research in the Region.”

Natera declined to comment on Harvard’s decision to strip Laspau of its affiliate status during an interview on Tuesday, but said the nonprofit’s demise will leave a large hole for the students and scholars it serves.

“There are many other organizations doing good work as well, but we are very focused in, precisely, in higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also with a profound and extensive network with U.S. institutions of higher education,” Natera said.

“The organization is dedicated and very proud of the work,” Natera added. “I think we are leaving an important legacy.”

—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at miles.herszenhorn@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @MHerszenhorn.

—Staff writer Leah J. Lourenco can be reached at leah.lourenco@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @Leah_Lourenco.

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