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Top research universities commit to boost number of Latino Ph.D.s, professors

Latinos make up less than 5 percent of tenured faculty and under 6 percent of tenure-track faculty at doctoral institutions.
Palm Walk in ASU Tempe Campus
The Palm Walk on the campus of Arizona State University campus in Tempe.yongyuan / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Twenty 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 professors by 20 percent. 

The announcement came Wednesday from a newly created organization, the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities, a group of leading research schools that are also designated as Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) by the Department of Education, meaning they have at least a quarter of Hispanic undergraduate students. 

The group includes Arizona State University, Texas Tech University, and a slew of campuses in the University of California system. The institutions combined enroll more than 766,000 students, a third of whom are Hispanic. In 2020, they produced over 11,000 doctoral graduates, 13 percent of whom were Hispanic. 

Heather Wilson, president of University of Texas at El Paso and chair of the alliance, said in a news release that although Hispanics make up 17 percent of the U.S. workforce, they “continue to be underrepresented in higher education.” 

“No group is better positioned than we are to expand the pathway to opportunity,” Wilson said. “We believe we are stronger together than as individual institutions acting alone.”

The group is also working on humanities training and research, as well as an initiative to expand the number of Hispanic students working in computer science. 

A study published in 2019 in the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy used federal data to determine an abysmal lag in faculty diversity in the U.S. between 2013 and 2017. Latinos also only made up about 4.6 percent of tenured faculty and 5.19 percent of tenure-track faculty at doctoral institutions, which were the least diverse in tenure status, according to the study. White professors, by contrast, made up nearly three-fourths of tenured professors. 

Many of the schools in the alliance have demonstrated an ability to buck national trends. The University of California, Irvine (UCI) nearly doubled its number of Latino doctoral students as well as its Latino faculty in the last decade. UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said in a Wednesday news release the school is committed to using the “distinctive characteristics” of the alliance to make “rapid progress.” 

Arizona State University, which is also a founding member of the alliance, has in recent years expanded its enrollment of Hispanic students. Michael Crow, president of ASU, said in a news release that the university is “wholly committed to enhancing access to quality learning for all students.” 

“This meaningful designation recognizes our ongoing institutional efforts to support the success of students who reflect the demographic diversity of our state and, looking to the future, the growing Hispanic community that will play a major role in the economic advancement and competitiveness of our nation,” he said.

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