Hispanic enrollment thrives at UT

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Total Hispanic enrollment at UT is at all time high, according to the University’s most recent enrollment data.

Hispanic enrollment jumped 5 percent in 10 years, and 17.5 percent — or 8,975 students — are Hispanic.

Luis Guevara, program coordinator for the Center for Mexican American Studies, is staff executive co-chair for the Hispanic Faculty/Staff Association.

“I think the campus environment for students, staff and faculty is much improved [in the last 10 years],” Guevara said. “There’s been a much more visible presence of Mexican-Americans and other Latinos.”

Guevara pointed out the events that take place to observe holidays like Dia de los Muertos and Mexican Independence day.

“The University can learn to appreciate what Mexican-Americans have contributed to Texas and the United States as a whole by the events, people and organizations as a whole,” Guevara said.

According to the Office of Information Management and Analysis statistics, in the 2009-2010 academic year 5,128 Caucasian students, 1,483 Hispanic students and 379 black students graduated.

“I know the University is aggressive in outreach to increase the number of undergraduates,” Guevara said. “I understand that the University wants to highlight enrollment trends, but the key thing is how many people finish their degrees. Getting people into college doesn’t mean they’re going to finish.”

Deputy admissions director Augustine Garza said 21 percent of incoming freshmen identify themselves as Hispanic.

“We have centers in all the major Texan cities: Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and Arlington,” Garza said. “We have deployed admission staff all over the state, and their job is to visit with students and disseminate information about the university.”

Garza said Hispanic freshman enrollment is down from 23.1 percent last year to 21 percent, and that part of the reason could be the ailing economy.

“We have a belief that a lot of students don’t come because of the financial aid situation,” Garza said. “We have a lot of families that are struggling and they make the decision for their children to stay closer to home”

Gregory Vincent, vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement, said he is less concerned with numbers and more concerned with removing obstacles in the way of dedicated students who want to attend UT.

“Our goal is to get the very best students from the state who will serve their community,” Vincent said. “We make sure that UT is a welcoming place for all students to pursue their higher education.” 

Printed on September 20, 2011 as: Hispanic enrollment at record high despite economy