North Texas Daily

University joins alliance of Hispanic-serving research institutions, hopes to double number of Hispanic doctoral students by 2030

University joins alliance of Hispanic-serving research institutions, hopes to double number of Hispanic doctoral students by 2030

University joins alliance of Hispanic-serving research institutions, hopes to double number of Hispanic doctoral students by 2030
June 16
14:00 2022

The university announced their role in establishing the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions, a program designed to create opportunities for Hispanic scholars.

Consisting of 19 other universities, the alliance aims to double the number of enrolled Hispanic doctoral students and increase the number of Hispanic professors by 20 percent before 2030.

“As a Hispanic-Serving institution deeply dedicated to helping all students thrive, UNT is proud to be part of a group that is focused on creating access and equity for our Hispanic students,” President Neal Smatresk said in a recent press release.

The alliance is made up of six other Texas universities, including the University of Texas-Austin, University of Texas-Arlington and Texas Tech University, in addition to academic institutions in eight other states.

For its first two projects, the HRSU alliance received grants from the Andrew W. Mellon and National Science Foundations to conduct cross-regional research, train doctoral students in Latinx humanities and expand computer science opportunities for students.

“To me, change is always good,” said Pamela Padilla, vice president of Innovation and Research for the university. “It means we are learning from our history, and we are moving forward in initiatives. As a scientist, I always think of change in terms of discovery and new ways of thinking. In this particular instance, how we are partnering with like-minded institutions to collectively do better than what we can in a singular matter.”

Students have voiced their support for the initiative. Oscar Silva, economics senior and president of the Eagle Dreamers gave insight into how he feels about the university’s treatment of Hispanic students and the newly announced alliance.

“I think a growing diverse faculty is a great step into facilitating an inclusive environment for students,” Silva said. “There’s always room for improvement and UNT is headed in the right direction. As long as they continue to maintain their promises and commitments, students will continue to succeed into higher education.”

Silva said the university may have work to do, but he believes their past could help their future.

“I do believe that UNT has been very open to Hispanic students in the past,” Silva said. “Their commitment to providing opportunities for Hispanic students has been a long-running initiative that continues to adapt and progress.”

Other students — like James Mendoza, an education senior and member of Folxlórico, the university’s traditional Mexican dance group — feel the university still has a ways to go.

“Hopefully, this alliance can change [things] for the next generation of scholars,” Mendoza said. “I have seen spaces made to serve the Hispanic population. I don’t think though, [that] this has made any opportunities for professional development [for Hispanic students]. I will say the steps being taken are in the right direction, but the strides are going to have to be longer.”

As a Hispanic Serving Institution, the university hopes to play a role in creating opportunities students may not have had prior to the alliance’s formation.

“We know what our demographics are looking like and where they are going in 50 years […] and who [will] be the main workforce in 10 years, in 15 years,” Padilla said. “[The alliance] recognizes that this community is important, and it shows an interest and a desire to serve, as well as a way in which we can better form a path for our students to get into the areas and the fields they want to.”

Featured Image: The Hurley Administration Building stands behind the university seal on June 8th, 2022. Photo by Daniel Pope

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Lauryn Barron

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