In a challenging time for universities around the country, this year's Hispanic Business ranking of the nation's top MBA programs and law schools for Hispanics shows strengthening commitment to diversity at institutions that are playing an increasingly critical role in advancing the U.S. Hispanic economy. Amid continuing cuts in state funding – and plans calling for little extra federal money – institutions on this year's list are using a variety of programs to continue to score high in the number of Hispanic students enrolled, percentage of full-time Hispanic faculty, services for Hispanic students, Hispanic student recruitment efforts and retention rates, quality of education, and reputation. "We work very hard to make minority students realize within a very short time of being here, that we want them here and that we are going to work to make it a good experience for them," says William Powers, dean of the University of Texas at Austin's School of Law, which retains its top law school rank for the third consecutive year.
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That attention to diversity also can be seen at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, which moves to the No. 1 spot in this year's MBA list, up from the No. 3 post it has held for the past two years. Many of the other schools in this year's list emphasize the same approach and also place high on national rankings such as U.S. News & World Report's list of best colleges, assessed on a variety of criteria including curriculum, enrollment, faculty, facilities, and student body. Diversity efforts at both undergraduate and graduate programs around the country appear to be showing results. The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics finds that Hispanic enrollment rose to 10 percent in 2000, up from 4 percent in 1976. Its most recent statistics found 3 percent of all U.S. faculty in colleges and universities were Hispanic in 1999. Still, the numbers remain proportionally low, and potential challenges remain to affirmative action policies. Overall, officials at more than 150 graduate schools contacted by Hispanic Business say last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the University of Michigan Law School's use of race as a factor in admissions has had little effect, though some still expect continued court challenges to policies. For many schools, recent state budget cuts have had more of an impact. "The more important factor is the financial aid factor," says Donald J. Weidner, dean of the Florida State University School of Law in Tallahassee (No. 10 on this year's list). "What's happening at our school is that tuition is increasing to cover costs and out-of-state tuition is increasing dramatically. It makes it much harder for us to recruit minority students from out of state." In addition, the school lost about $1 million in state-funded minority scholarships. Mr. Weidner attributes the loss to a combination of a state budget crunch and the creation of two new law schools with predominantly minority admissions. The school is trying to make up the shortfall through fundraising and combining smaller scholarships with job opportunities for students at local law firms. Such financial challenges are widespread. A report earlier this year says overall state funding to higher education increased only 1.2 percent for the 2003-04 school year. Meanwhile, Hispanic higher education also has gained little in federal funding, and the president's 2005 budget calls for just a 1.9 percent increase to $95.9 million. In March, members of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities urged Congress to support providing the first-ever funds for Hispanic graduate education as part of its reauthorization consideration of the Higher Education Act, which currently provides only undergraduate funding. Rising tuition also is a challenge. According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average graduate school tuition is about $14,000 a year, with a two-year MBA costing as much as $40,000 a year. Some universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin's School of Law, have endowments that help offset rising costs. The school's endowment allows it to pay for nearly $3 million in scholarships, and although the school has raised its tuition, Mr. Powers says 20 percent of that increase has been set aside for financial aid efforts. Amid the challenges, schools on this year's list remain active in boosting Hispanic participation. The University of Michigan Business School (No. 9 on this year's list) relies on its reputation and active recruitment to attract Hispanic students. The school has partnerships that specifically tie in with Hispanics, such as working with the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. Stanford University's Graduate School of Business offers small classes, a close-knit academic community, an emphasis on international business and a commitment to diversity. "We work on everything. We really start with our commitment at the application process and it continues right through the MBA experience and all the extra curricular activities, and then with helping people get jobs," says the school's dean, Bob Joss. As part of its efforts to recruit Hispanic students, the UT-Austin School of Law reaches out to undergraduate universities in regional cities such as El Paso and San Antonio. "What we need to do is keep vigilant that we don't say, 'We've achieved some diversity, so let's just coast'" says Mr. Powers. "That's why I and our admissions office and our students go out every year to many places [with large Hispanic populations]." The key to increasing Hispanic enrollment even further, says Earl T. Granger III, senior associate director of full-time MBA admissions at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (No. 5 on this year's list), is to reach students early through programs such as the Diversity Pipeline Alliance, which takes potential management students from middle school to business school. The National Society of Hispanic MBAs, the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, the Robert Toigo Foundation, and the Ph.D Project are members of the alliance. "You've got to grab them, quite honestly, by the eighth grade," says Mr. Granger. "You have to make sure that they're taking the right courses, such as pre-calculus. You need to reach out, not just to students, but also to their parents and their communities." Abe Tomas Hughes, chairman of the Hispanic Association of Corporate Executives, says awareness also needs to be increased that skills learned in business school are crucial for a range of careers, including education and government. In addition, an entrepreneur with a master's degree may have an easier time, for example, attracting the venture capital needed to start a business. "Part of what you're doing when you go to one of these schools, whether it's an MBA program or a law program, is you're buying into a network," says Mr. Hughes, "a network of contacts, a network of alumni, that will help you when you get out, not just to get your first opportunity, but also throughout your career."
2004 Best Schools Methodology To develop the Hispanic Business Top 10 Law Schools for Hispanics ranking, the magazine sent questionnaires to 174 law schools across the nation that have programs accredited by the American Bar Association. To develop the Hispanic Business Top 10 MBA Programs for Hispanics ranking, the magazine sent questionnaires to 338 business schools with programs accredited by the American Council of Business Schools. Schools provided information in five key categories and Hispanic Business applied a rating system to each institution, appointing up to five points in each category. The categories are:
•Enrollment: The number of Hispanic students currently enrolled and the percentage of Hispanic students compared with total school enrollment.
•Faculty: The percentage of full-time Hispanic faculty members among total full-time faculty.
•Student Services: The number of special programs to recruit Hispanic students, the number of mentorship programs for Hispanic students, and the number of active Hispanic student support organizations on campus. (The average of these three numbers was calculated for use in final rating in this category.)
•Retention Rate: Calculated by dividing the number of first-year Hispanic students who returned to attend their second year by the number of first-year Hispanic students, as reported by each institution. (The retention rate was then ranked on scale of 0-5 for final rating.)
•Reputation: Rated based on the U.S. News and World Report ranking of the institutions' programs in the magazine's Best Graduate Schools, 2003 Edition. Institutions' point scores in each of the five categories were totaled, and a rating was assigned to each school on the basis of the total score.