This Alliance of Universities Is Committed to Increasing the Number of Latino PhDs

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Image courtesy of hsru.org.

Did you know that Latinos represent less than 5 percent of tenured faculty and less than 6 percent of tenure-track faculty at doctoral institutions?

This is a reality that directly affects the representation and presence of our community in the highest ranks of academia.

However, it appears that this is in the process of changing.

As reported by NBC News, twenty of the top research universities have committed to doubling the number of Latino doctoral students at their schools by 2030, in addition to increasing the number of Hispanic faculty by 20 percent.

The newly formed Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities, comprised of leading research schools designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) by the Department of Education, announced their commitment last week.

The group includes Arizona State University, Texas Tech University, and several campuses in the University of California system, NBC continued. The combined institutions enroll more than 766,000 students, one-third of whom are Hispanic.

“Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States and are now 17% of the workforce, yet they continue to be underrepresented in higher education. No group is better positioned than we are to expand the pathway to opportunity,” said Dr. Heather Wilson, President of The University of Texas at El Paso and Chair of the Alliance. “We believe we are stronger together than as individual institutions acting alone.”

Alliance universities are engaged in thousands of research projects in the arts and humanities, STEM, health sciences, social sciences, and other fields with world-changing results. In 2019-20, Alliance universities produced 11,027 doctoral graduates, of which 13 percent (1,451) were Hispanic.

“With Hispanics making up less than 6 percent of U.S. doctoral students, we must be intentional about creating opportunities for Hispanics,” said Dr. Michael Amiridis, outgoing Chancellor for the University of Illinois Chicago. “We believe this Alliance will make rapid progress in advancing Hispanic student enrollment in doctoral programs and broadening pathways to the professoriate by building on our strength as Hispanic serving research universities.”

Before the formal announcement of the HRSU Alliance, the universities began working together on several initiatives. The first project, funded by a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, will conduct cross-regional research and train doctoral students in the Latino humanities. A second initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, expands opportunities for Hispanic students in computer science.

The Alliance began during the pandemic through long-distance conversations, meetings between presidents and chancellors, and professors and administrators coordinated by the University of Illinois Chicago. The effort took hold and evolved into the determination to formalize the relationship announced last week.

“By improving Hispanic representation in academia, this Alliance will change the face of higher education,” said Dr. Kim Wilcox, Chancellor of the University of California, Riverside. “We can bring diverse perspectives into the research conducted by our exceptional faculty, creating opportunities for purposeful careers both in and outside of academia for Hispanic students.”