EL PASO, Texas—The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has been selected as one of three Hispanic Serving Institutions to participate in a program to increase the number of Latino professors in the humanities at colleges and universities across the United States.
Pathways to the Professoriate, supported by a $5.1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will prepare 90 students from Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) for Ph.D. programs over a five-year period.
“This grant will enable UTEP to open an exciting new window of opportunity for our baccalaureate graduates in the humanities,” said Diana Natalicio, president of UTEP. “Rapid growth in Hispanic student enrollment on campuses across the US has highlighted the serious underrepresentation of Hispanics on university faculties. UTEP and other Hispanic-majority institutions are especially well positioned to address the growing demand for Latino faculty through the development of seamless pathways toward academic career opportunities for their graduates.”
“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—ranking second only to the University of California, Berkeley,” she said. “Participation in this program promises to enhance further UTEP’s significant role in diversifying the US professoriate.”
Pathways to the Professoriate will be administered by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This program comes as colleges and universities across the United States are trying, and often struggling, to develop a faculty that reflects the nation’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity. The scarcity of Latino professors is especially stark, as Latinos make up only 4.1 percent of the professoriate in the United States, but 20 percent of the population aged 18-44.
Lorenzo Candelaria, Ph.D., associate provost and professor of musicology at UTEP, will serve as the project’s principal investigator.
“This is an outstanding and exciting opportunity for our students,” Candelaria said. “But it is also a very important opportunity for the Mellon Foundation. In reaching out to UTEP and its deep pool of talented students and faculty, they have clearly signaled a serious commitment to joining us in our mission of serving a 21st century demographic. We look forward to working with them as equal partners in that important task and in the broader aim of cultivating more informed and more nuanced conversations on diversity in higher education throughout the country.”
“This is not a problem that can be fixed overnight,” says Marybeth Gasman, director of the Center for MSIs. “We see this program as a way to begin a fundamental change. We hope this creates a strong pathway to graduate school for Latino students that will grow over time, with these students supporting one another, and one day becoming mentors themselves.”
“As the demographic profile of the US changes, the country has a compelling interest in obtaining the full participation of previously underrepresented communities,” said Mariët Westermann, Vice President at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “The past decade has seen considerable gains in doctoral degree attainment for Latinos, yet these gains have not kept up with the growth of the US Hispanic population. We have every confidence that this program will build on the successful pipeline programs piloted by the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”
During the five-year program, the Center for MSIs will partner with three Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) — Florida International University; The University of Texas at El Paso; and California State University, Northridge — and five majority research institutions — New York University; University of California, Berkley; University of Pennsylvania; Northwestern University; and University of California, Davis.
Selected HSI undergraduate students will take part in intensive summer research programs and cross-institutional conferences, while also receiving mentoring, and support for applying to and enrolling in graduate school.
Throughout the grant, the Penn Center for MSIs will be conducting assessments of how selected students are progressing. In doing so, Gasman hopes to “find the leaks in the pipeline” — the challenges that are most likely to halt a Latino scholar’s path to a Ph.D.
About the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions
The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. Based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, the Center’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities. For further information about the Center, please visit www.gse.upenn.edu/cmsi.
About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. For more information, please visit https://mellon.org.