According to Georgia Institute of Technology's Hispanic Initiative director, Jorge Breton, sheer numbers can be extremely important in creating what he called a "Hispanic friendly" campus. "Having a significant amount of minority students enrolled in an institution really improves the chances of minority students successfully obtaining a college degree," he said.
He added that the presence of a community of Hispanic undergraduate and graduate students, along with professors, assures students that they belong on that campus, rightfully pursuing a higher education. Georgia ranked No. 1 on the list of Top 10 Engineering Schools for Hispanics.
The Power Of Student Organizations
Each of the schools on this magazine's Top 10 list is notable for its rich array of Hispanic professional student associations. For example, the University of Texas at Austin hosts two active organizations assisting students called the Hispanic Graduate Business Association and Mexican Business Association.
It is these associations, says Prof. Charles Calleros of Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, which catalyze the community of Hispanic scholars. Prof. Calleros, who is actively involved in numerous outreach and mentoring efforts at the school, praised the associations' "vibrancy."
"I could brag about the faculty and staff," he said, "but it's actually the students themselves that make this a good place for Latinos. They have pro bono programs, academic support committees, and recruitment committees. They usually send a team to the National Hispanic Bar Association's moot court."
Schools With A Mission
Looking at the universities on our Top 10 lists reveals two distinct groups. The first are professional schools at state universities that embrace a mission of serving their state populations, the second are elite national universities that see themselves as serving not particular states but the nation or even the world.
Dr. Byron Cryer, associate dean of minority student affairs at the University of Texas at Dallas School of Medicine, which heads the list of medical schools, offered insight into how a state university understands its social mission and how that mission enhances its schools' diversity achievements.
"Probably the largest issue that drives our push for diversity is that we are a state school that represents the interests of Texas," he said. "And we in Texas have a population that is increasingly more diverse, particularly for Hispanics." His school recognizes a critical need to augment the supply of doctors serving that rising population.
Dr. Cryer said having Hispanic doctors treat Hispanic patients increases the likelihood that the patients will seek help in the first place and then understand and act on their prescribed medical treatment. "For about 10 years, we've targeted applicants who have an interest in providing service to medically underserved communities."
The school has found that Hispanic applicants are interested in serving those populations. Many graduates have already established medical practices in those communities. These newly minted doctors, Dr. Cryer said, "have done quite well."
Other schools, typically located in states with large Hispanic populations, also acknowledge a mission to serve local community needs and consequently enhance diversity. "Because we are the only law school in a relatively poor state, there is a sense that (we) have to meet the needs of New Mexico," said Mark Feldman, dean of students services at UNM's Law School.
Elite National Schools
To a certain extent, top-tier national schools, like Stanford University Graduate School of Business, have a contrasting approach to diversity and a different sense of mission. Stanford, which combines rigorous business training with a recognition of the need for diversity, grabbed the No. 2 spot on this year's Top 10 list of Business Schools.
Stanford understands diversity as the need to recognize and work with an expanding array of cultural differences in today's global economy. About one third of the MBA class comes from other countries, including Chile, Mexico, Japan, and European nations, which Communications Director Barbara Buell said gives Stanford an added boost of diversity.
In the MBA program, she said, "you want your entering class to be as diverse a group of people as possible. You want a Los Angeles Hispanic interfacing with someone from Beijing or from the south of France."
According to Ms. Buell, such a diversity of perspectives enriches the problem-solving capacity of organizations and is a fact of life in today's business world. Stanford's sense of mission emphasizes serving not a particular community or state, but corporate America in general.
Despite differences in size, geographical locale, and sense of mission, the schools leading the Hispanic Business Top Ten lists this year not only recognize that importance of diversity, they are action models for making it happen.
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