Hispanics are the largest growing population group in the United States.
The number of Hispanic (and more broadly, Minority) Serving Institutions is on the rise and, according to the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
Yet Hispanic Serving Institutions receive “69 cents for every dollar going to all other colleges and universities annually, per student, from all federal funding sources” (HACU 2016).
Not only must we address challenges unique to different student groups, but we must do it for 70% of the going rate.
What we talk about even less is the number of tenure-track Hispanic faculty across US colleges and universities. I can count the number of ‘me’ in ecology on two hands.
All ecologists understand and value biodiversity. But when it comes to social diversity, our logic is seemingly dictated by our bias.
Puerto Rico is a unique case study. Institutions in Puerto Rico serve a nearly 100% Hispanic population (and its faculty are predominantly Hispanic too). That’s one barrier eliminated.
The average tuition at University of Puerto Rico for a Puerto Rican resident is ~$900/semester. That’s right. A Bachelor’s degree at UPR costs under $10,000 (assuming about 5 courses a semester for 5 years).
About 80% of our students receive the Pell grant, which means the financial burden of higher education is nearly eliminated.
What happens when you remove financial and social barriers for Hispanics on the pathway to a career in STEM?
UPR-Mayagüez is ranked number one among baccalaureate origin institutions that produce Hispanic doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering (followed by UPR Rio Piedras, University of California Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Florida; NAS 2011).
In other words, a Hispanic student graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from UPRM (with little to no debt) is more likely to go on to obtain a doctorate degree than Hispanic students graduating from other institutions. The numbers speak for themselves.
That is truly something to emulate.