University welcomes Basque president, hosts honorary event

7/27/2010 | By: Jane Tors  |

In a presentation pledging continued support for the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Basque Studies, Patxi Lopez, president of the autonomous Basque Government, called the center “the leading research and education institute of its kind outside the Basque country.”

Nevada is a state rich in Basque heritage and the University’s Center for Basque Studies plays an integral role in cultivating this unique culture. The contributions of the center and the state toward preserving, researching and celebrating the Basque culture were acknowledged in a program and award presentation Monday in the University’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center’s Wells Fargo Auditorium.

Lopez, who was elected president or “lehendakari” in 2009, joined University President Milt Glick in signing an agreement or “convenio.” The agreement encourages further collaboration between the Basque Government, the University and the Center for Basque Studies through the study of Basque heritage and culture, and the dissemination of the results of this research. The Basque Government has provided financial support to the center since 2001. From its initial investment of 90,000 Euros, the annual support to the center has increased to a gift of 217,700 Euros (about $280,000 in today's exchange rate) pledged Monday.

“Currently, the institute for Basque studies in Nevada is our showcase to the English-speaking world,” Lopez said in remarks translated to English. “It is also a meeting point between the American and Basque academic worlds. When the English(-speaking) press wants to talk about the Basques, this is the first place they come.”

“A relationship with the Basque Country and the community of Euskadi {Basque people} is important to the mission of the Center for Basque Studies,” Co-Director of the Center Joseba Zulaika said. “This support allows us to further our research and writing on many social topics of international importance, such as migration, nationalism, language, literature and diasporas. These topics are becoming even more relevant in this global era.”

“The Center for Basque Studies is a unique aspect of the University,” said Glick. “It provides a valued tie to a vibrant culture and an important aspect of this region’s history. Through its research and publications, the center links the University to an international community and advances our academic reputation abroad.

“We are pleased to have President Lopez visit our campus and to further strengthen our relationship with the Basque government and universities,” said Glick.

During Monday’s ceremony, the Lagun Onari prize, considered the most important and prestigious award granted by the autonomous Basque Government, was presented to the State of Nevada. The award recognizes non-Basque individuals or entities that have significantly promoted the Basque Country’s economy, history and culture outside the region or have made significant contributions to knowledge about the Basques, their history and society. The proclamation accompanying the Lagun Onari was read by Blanca Urgell, the Basque Government’s Minister of Culture, and the award was presented by Lopez to Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki representing the state.

Among those attending the program and representing the Basque country were the secretary general for external affairs, the deputy minister for universities and research and presidents of the three leading universities in the Basque country. Journalists representing the Basque country’s major television, radio and publications also attended.

The Basque Country encompasses four provinces in Spain and three provinces in France. More than 6,000 people of Basque origin live in Nevada, according to the 2000 U.S. Census data in 2000, making the “Silver State” the third largest with Basque presence after California, with nearly 21,000, and Idaho, with nearly 6,700.

In addition to its research, the Center for Basque Studies offers instructional programs on the history, culture, politics, literature and language of the Basque Country; has published numerous books; and features an extensive Basque library collection. The center is located on the third floor of the University’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.


For more news on the University of Nevada, Reno, follow @unevadareno on Twitter.

Get Nevada Today in your Inbox!