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UTEP awarded grant to fund more Hispanic faculty

Angel Ulloa
UTEP recognized as one of the leading Hispanic-serving institutions in the country.

Looking to increase diversity within the professoriate community nationwide, the University of Texas at El Paso will receive a $5.1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

UTEP was recognized by the University of Pennsylvania as one of the leading Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) in the country, and were one of three HSIs to be selected to participate in Pathways to the Professoriate.

The grant will be used to increase the number of Latino professors in colleges throughout the nation, by setting up students in Ph.D. humanities programs over the next five years. UTEP was one of three HSIs to be selected for the program, the two other being Florida International University and California State University.

UTEP musicology professor, Lorenzo Candelaria, who will oversee the project as the principal investigator, said it’s all about diversity.

“The whole point of the program is to diversify the professoriate,” Candelaria said. “(It means) getting more diversity into Ph.D. programs that ultimately leads to a career as a professor at a university. I thought it was a great partnership because UTEP has been thinking about that for quite some time.”

At the heart of Pathways to the Professoriate is the hope to fix one of the major problems within the professoriate community. That being, the largely underrepresented group of Hispanic professors.

In a late January press release, President Diana Natalicio said that UTEP, along with other HSIs, are the ideal institutions to deal the problem of diversity.

“UTEP is already a national leader in the number of doctoral degrees awarded to Hispanics and in the number of our Hispanic baccalaureate graduates who go on to complete doctoral degrees,” Natalicio said. “Participation in this program promises to enhance further UTEP’s significant role in diversifying the U.S. professoriate.”

According to The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), Hispanic professors only make up 4.1 percent of the professoriate in the United States.

In a 2013 study done by U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 79 percent of full

time faculty in postsecondary institutions were white, 10 percent were Asian Pacific/Islander, 6 percent were black, 5 percent were Hispanic, while American Indians came in last at less than 1 percent.

Broken down by academic rank, for Hispanics specifically; 3 percent were professors, 4 percent were associate professors, 5 percent were assistant professors, 7 percent were instructor, and 6 percent were lecturers.

White males and females were the two leading majorities at each academic rank.

Looking to increase the percentage of Latino professors makes UTEP, a university with a predominantly Hispanic student population, a great candidate for the program, Candelaria said.

“An institution like UTEP is very attractive,” Candelaria said. “People are well aware that UTEP is a Hispanic-majority school, and El Paso is a Hispanic majority city. So for Penn to reach out to us… we are an obvious choice for them.”

Considering the demographics of El Paso, the main beneficiaries of the program will be Hispanic students, but Candelaria strongly emphasized that the program is open to all and any students. Even though Hispanics are the large majority at UTEP, there is no specific candidate.

“The program isn’t directed specifically toward any one ethnic group,” Candelaria said. “It really is open to any student interested in addressing the problem of diversity in the professoriate. The heart of diversity includes everyone, this is a program that is open to all students.”

Although the program is a step in the right direction, discovering the best way to fix a long-term problem like diversity will take time.

“This is a problem that has to be addressed from many different angles,” Candelaria said. “There’s not going to be a magic solution or magic pill that will make everything better. It’s a matter of approaching the problem from broad perspectives and having the patience to work the problem over a fairly long time.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter
Javier Cortez is a staff reporter for The Prospector. He is a senior multimedia journalism major, with a minor in English Rhetoric. Javier was born and raised in El Paso, TX and before coming to UTEP in the summer of 2012, he graduated from Irvin High School, where he was a four-year varsity tennis player, a member of student council and a class officer for his graduating class. He has also worked for the El Paso Diablos as a sports information intern on their media relations team. In his spare time, Javier loves to write columns for the perspectives section in the school newspaper—whether it is sports, pop culture, religion, and society he loves to write about it. To go along with writing, Javier loves reading anything about sports, religion, and non-fiction.
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UTEP awarded grant to fund more Hispanic faculty