Program could serve as model for rest of the nation.
PRINCETON, N.J., Sept. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The growing U.S. Hispanic population faces daunting educational, health and financial challenges, but the University of Texas has an aggressive $30 million plan to confront the challenges and increase high school graduation, college enrollment, STEM studies and on-time graduation. Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., Chancellor of the University of Texas System, outlined that plan in his 2013 Tomas Rivera Lecture, published today by Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Cigarroa described the plan as keynote speaker at the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) annual conference earlier this year. The annual lecture is named in honor of the late Dr. Rivera, a professor, scholar, poet, author and former president of the University of California, Riverside. Rivera also served on the board of trustees of ETS. This is the fifth year that AAHHE and ETS have collaborated to publish the annual lecture.
The 40-page plan, "A Framework for Advancing Excellence throughout the University of Texas System," is a group effort involving the UT System leadership, Regents, Texas legislators, policymakers and presidents and admissions offices of the UT System's 15 institutions.
Cigarroa discussed the major shift in the nation's demographics and the profound effect it is having on K-12 and higher education. For example, he noted that in 2010, 50 million Americans identified themselves as Hispanic--an increase of 43 percent over the previous decade. And states along the Mexican border, like Texas, are experiencing this sea change at a more rapid pace.
Cigarroa also noted that 27 percent of the Texas population is under 18 and almost 49 percent of that population is Hispanic. Forty-seven percent of the K-12 population in Texas is Hispanic. And, the median age for Hispanics in Texas is 27, but for non-Hispanic Whites it is 41.5 percent.
"The Texas of 2020 is going to look very different from the Texas of 2013," Cigarroa said. "And so it is clear to me that we must nurture the talents and aspirations of young Hispanics who will soon become our leaders in governance, public service, education, healthcare and numerous other fields--not only in Texas, but across the nation."
"However, when it comes to Hispanic education--the key to a better life that everyone here believes in--these are troubling times for our young Hispanic population," Cigarroa said. For example:
-- 34 percent of Texas Hispanics under the age of 18 live in poverty. -- Hispanics are less likely to graduate from high school compared with non-Hispanic Whites. -- Attrition rates are about 37 percent for Hispanic high school students in Texas. -- Among Hispanic Texans there are more high school dropouts than there are college graduates.
"Although these statistics are discouraging, I would mislead you if I gave the impression that no progress has been made in Texas over the past decade," Cigarroa told attendees. He cited recent examples of advances the University of Texas System has made to increase Hispanic enrollment in our institutions.-- Nearly 40 percent of all UT System students are Hispanic. -- The UT System now has a majority-minority student population. -- From 2000 to fall 2012, Hispanic enrollment at UT academic institutions increased 8 percent and 59.2 percent at UT health institutions. -- From 2000 to 2012, there has been a 112 percent increase in degrees awarded to Hispanics at UT academic institutions and a 97 percent increase in degrees awarded to Hispanics at UT health institutions.