WHAT PART OF DIVERSITY DOES THE UNIVERSITY NOT UNDERSTAND?
By Bidal Agüero
Our new pulse of the Hispanic Community question of the week asked about recently named Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance and his concern or lack of concern for the Hispanic Community. The question pointed out that “To date, Chancellor Kent Hance has not had any type of special meeting with Lubbock Hispanics to discuss any special needs or to investigate ways to address special problems that Hispanic students encounter at Tech.”
We asked “Do you feel this shows a lack of concern from Texas Tech and what do you think should happen”
Texas Tech presently has a student enrollment of 28,007. Of these only 3,217 or 4.7% is Hispanic.
When we asked the University’s to tell about their efforts in the Hispanic community. In their response we were surprised to find out that in reality the Chancellor’s office is apparently misinformed about the percentage of Hispanics that attend Tech.
The office claims, “the Hispanic student population is 11.49% of the total student population. In the Fall 06 semester, there were 3217 Hispanic students enrolled, an increase of 4.69% from Fall 2005. There has been an increase in Hispanic student enrollment at Texas Tech every year since 1999.”
Despite this inaccuracy claiming an 11.49% Hispanic enrollment, the Chancellor’s office claims various efforts to increase enrollment. They say, “the number of Hispanic students that are retained has improved steadily over the last few years as has the number of Hispanic faculty. In fact, Hispanic faculty hold Chair positions in Academic Departments, Associate Deans positions, and are represented in the President and Provost offices.”
The Chancellor’s office states that “there are several ongoing initiatives to further increase the number of Hispanic students at Tech, including a recent program to attach Hispanic faculty to participate in high school recruitment teams that will be visiting area schools that often have significant Hispanic student populations.”
The answers from the community in our Hispanic Pulse questions were varied. One of our readers Jerry Perez, also pointed out that Hispanics “in the Lubbock community benefit from several Texas Tech programs that address special problems that Hispanic, Black, Asian, and other minority students, staff, and faculty on campus may encounter…”
He goes on to name many of the programs and later in his letter points out to El Editor that “at this time, Chancellor Hance’s office is not responsible for community outreach. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t understand how Texas Tech works and should refrain from criticizing something they do not understand. Currently, the TTU President’s office has taken the task to spear-head community relations and minority outreach.
Perez’ answer was clarified by Commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez who in giving us a brief history of the Chancellor’s office efforts to help Hispanics explains that, “minority recruiting and outreach is not normally a function of the TTU Office of Chancellor.”He states that the previous Chancellor Dr. David Smith abandoned the ordinary and made recruitment of minority students a facet of his administration.
“He created an Office of Diversity, a Minority Advisory Council, and a Pastor’s Forum and allocated significant dollars. Mr Kent Hance appears to be following the more traditional role of Chancellor as chief fund raiser and lobbyist.”
Perez says that “many of us have met with City Council, the Mayor, the Commissioners, and local Hispanic activists to discuss matters such as Caesar Chavez Blvd (It will happen!), City Council board assignments, and recruiting Hispanics for senior city positions. Also, all of us marched in May to show our support for our Hispanic community. I have the pictures on my hard drive!”
According to the Editors of this newspaper, Mr. Perez letter is well taken but other than mentioning that the Chancellor’s office is not responsible for community outreach the question asking about the concern of the Chancellor’s office is still not answered
Two more of our readers agreed with Mr. Perez that our question is inappropriate. Robert Pratt, a local talk show host said “The question sounds to me as if you are trying to pick a fight where none exists and are engaging in a bit of race-baiting at the expense of Texas Tech.”
Ruby Vidaurre said “I personally think the Chancellor Kent Hance has other things on his mind. I don’t believe that having a special meeting with the Hispanic community is a top priority with the Chancellor.”
The University said that Chancellor Hance, and Texas Tech, is committed “to creating and maintaining an environment where Hispanic students, indeed all students, can be successful.”
Commissioner Gutierrez differs with the Chancellor’s statement when the Commissioner writes “Whether it is deserved or not, Texas Tech has a reputation of less than nominal success and increases in its percentage of Hispanic students. The percentage of Hispanic students in 1990 was about 2.5%. In 2007 the percentage is 4.9%. To the outside observer, TTU efforts at recruitment of the fastest growing segment of students seems stagnant.”.
In the same period, Hispanic student population in Public Schools has grown from about 30% to 53%. Dallas is closer to 65%.
The Chancellor’s office said that “the Office of Enrollment Management is working on an aggressive student recruiting plan that emphasizes minority recruitment. Dr. Juan S. Munoz, special assistant to the president for institutional diversity and associate vice provost is the director of the Cross-Cultural Academic Advancement Center oversees the largest Hispanic students’ retention program, Mentor Tech, which is instrumental to the success of Hispanic students at Tech.
Commission Gutierrez again differs with this when he states “To compound the problem, Hispanic students have little cause to choose TTU. TTU Administration is visibly devoid of diversity. TTU publications such as magazines and posters are also devoid of diversity as is the TTU elective curriculum”
His statements are echoed by Frank Hernandez as he writes “Under Kent Hance we can be assured that Tech will continue in its old ways of ignoring us and not even encouraging our community to be part of it.”
Another response to our question raised concern about Chancellor Hance’s efforts. Steve Bustos wrote: “I believe the current Lubbock population is approximately 1/3 Hispanic and of the 29,000 students now attending TTU only a little over 10 % are listed as Hispanic.”
The facts are that 4.7% of the student enrollment is Hispanic. Lubbock and the area presently make up close to 20% of graduate of the high school student population. Tech’s 4.7% Hispanic enrollment can be compared to another higher education institution, South Plains College that has a Hispanic student enrollment of 27%
The diversity statement from the University states the number one goal of the university will be “to increase student diversity to more closely reflect the high school graduates in Texas.” They also stated that in a personal effort, the Chancellor had attended the Installation of Officers of the Lubbock Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In closing, Mr. Bustos asks in his letter, “My only question to Mr. Hance would be what part of the word ‘diversity’ do they not understand?”
This article was written with excerpts from letters written by our readers to the Hispanic Pulse Question of the Week. In an effort to convey their whole thoughts and answers their entire response is included in our Community Voices forum also on this website.