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Latino students may help keep the doors open at black colleges

by February 17, 2017 • Breaking NewsComments (0) 85

Historically black colleges and universities adjust to the times

THE mascot at César E. Chávez High School in Houston, Texas, is the lobo, Spanish for wolf. Most of the pupils are Latino. The school is not the traditional pipeline for black colleges, yet last week Texas Southern University (TSU), a historically black university, visited the place to pitch the benefits of its institution. The university, which was founded in 1927 to educate black scholars when they had little access to higher education, has seen a steady increase in Latino enrollment. Over the past six years the share of Latinos at TSU has doubled, from 4% to 8%. Austin Lane, the university’s president, expects that figure to double again inside ten years.

TSU is not alone. In 2013 the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre for Minority Serving Institutions looked at the changing face of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Although many are still majority-black, the report found that a quarter have at least a 20% non-black student population. Some of the growth is from white, Asian-American and international enrolment. The strongest growth is coming from Latinos, especially in places, such as Texas and Florida, where the Latino population is also surging. Some of this growth is organic. For instance, Paul Quinn College started a soccer programme, which appealed to Latino students, who now make up 20% of students. Others, like TSU, are actively recruiting in Latino communities. They visit Latino-majority high-schools and Spanish-language churches, and use bilingual recruiting material. “We are in the business of teaching and learning,” says Mr Lane, “but we are a business.”

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