Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Scholars' Corner

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Scholars' Corner

Article excerpt

last year in San Antonio, Texas, the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) hosted their eighth annual national conference, "Shaping our own Destiny: Toward a Latino Attainment Agenda," with the goal of stimulating action for Latino educational achievement. The conference hosted 60 concurrent sessions and five plenary sessions, all with a focus on increased engagement and addressing barriers to degree completion for latinos.

One of the plenary sessions featured three higher education leaders: Dr. Ana "Cha" Guzman, president of Santa Fe Community College; Dr. J. Michael Ortiz, president of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; and Dr. Raymond Paredes, commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The session, "The Degree Imperative: Implications for the Latino Workforce," highlight«! national trends in higher education and the implications for Latinos seeking degrees. Dr. Ricardo Romo, president of the University of Texas at San Antonio, served as the session moderator. A key theme of the panel was the dramatic change in U.S. higher education. As Paredes noted, 'We are living through a period of extraordinary change in higher education in the country." Using the recent example of the ouster and subsequent reinstatement of the president of University of Virginia, he went on to observe, "... some believe that higher education is fundamentally in good shape in the country and so change should occur at an incremental rate. Others believe that we need dramatic change or 'disruptive innovation' in higher education ..." citing the term advanced by organizational expert Clayton Christiansen. The panelists emphasized that this change is also characterized by transformations in the nation's demographics, politics, finances and the way students must navigate higher education. This is especially challenging because the majority of latino students are first-generation and need support programs to ensure they can navigate the complex and difficult pathway to a bachelor's degree.

The presidents described the ways their campuses were responding to these challenges. President Ortiz of Cal Poly, Pomona for example discussed two initiatives: the Early Assessment Program, which provides academic support to high school juniors in English and mathematics; and a partnership with the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), which has trained close to 10,000 parents of first-generation students on what their children need to succeed in college. …

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