By April Lacey
KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Charles Tatum, dean of the College of Humanities, speaks in the Gallagher Theater yesterday afternoon. Tatum feels the UA should become a Hispanic-serving institution by reaching out to Latino youth and increasing Hispanic enrollment.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 9, 2004
The UA has been striving to increase Latino student enrollment in order to become a Hispanic serving institution.
Charles Tatum, dean of the College of Humanities, spoke to a crowd of about 70 yesterday on the topic of becoming an HSI.
A Hispanic serving institution is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as "an institution that has at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, and of the Hispanic student enrollment, at least 50 percent are low income."
Making the UA an HSI has been a goal of President Pete Likins for more than a year.
The UA's objective is to raise the Hispanic student population from 14 percent to 25 percent within 10 years.
Tatum, who spoke at noon at the Gallagher Theatre in the Student Union Memorial Center, said the status of Latino education prior to the college level has significant room for improvement compared to other ethnic groups in Arizona.
He said that should be a motivating factor for the UA to become an HSI.
A university education is important in order for more Hispanics to obtain better jobs, Tatum said.
"The most attractive jobs and careers will require a college education. Those with the highest level of college degrees will have the most desirable jobs," he said.
According to the Arizona Department of Education, the annual high school dropout rate for Latino students is 15 percent, which is twice that of white students, Tatum said.
More than two-fifths of Latinos over the age of 25 in Arizona have not graduated from high school, Tatum said.
Tatum said one reason why there are not more Latino students at the UA is that many come from low-income families that tend to see college as a less realistic option.
"College is a whole mystified world that doesn't belong to them. We are trying to overcome that," Tatum said.
Raising the Hispanic enrollment would require a financial commitment from the UA, Tatum said.
"We must go beyond rhetoric to commitment," he said.
A major plan of action, which would require a commitment from the university, would be to start reaching out to the Hispanic community at levels of education prior to high school, Tatum said.
"The UA should be engaged at a much earlier age than high school," Tatum said.
One UA-funded project currently running in a few schools in the Sunnyside District of Tucson is the College Academy for Parents, Tatum said.
The plan places fifth graders and their parents in a program with semester-long orientations that clarify the college process. The program will "help parents understand expectations for college, improve communications with schools, and prepare students for a college education."
Latinos account for 25 percent of the population in Arizona, Tatum said.
"We will fall behind other states if Arizona fails to raise the level of education in within its Latino population," Tatum said. "We must renew our efforts to increase the number of Latino and other lower income minority groups at the UA."
Tatum's speech was the first of the Faculty Fellows Speaker Series put on by the Dean of Students' Office.