Texas Tech joins universities nationwide to launch Hispanic opportunity alliance

Texas Tech joins universities nationwide to launch Hispanic opportunity alliance

Texas Tech and 19 other universities across the country on Thursday announced the formation of a partnership aimed at increasing opportunities for Hispanic students in some of the nation's top institutions.

The new Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities (HSRU) consists of every university that has been both categorized as R1 (very high research activity) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education — 20 in total including Texas Tech.

The alliance hopes to double the number of Hispanic doctoral students and increase the number of Hispanic professors in its universities by 20 percent before 2030.

Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said the conversation around forming an alliance between Tier 1-designated Hispanic Serving Institutions started around two years ago with the idea that strength is found in collective effort.

"These are really outstanding institutions, and we share the common bond that we’re all HSI," Schovanec said. "The idea was that we could be more effective working together than individually, and we could do things at a speed and a scale that we couldn’t achieve individually."

Representing nine states, the 20 HSRU Alliance universities together enrolled 766,718 students in the fall of 2020. Of those, 33 percent, or just under 255,000 were Hispanic. In 2020, the combined research spending of these universities totaled more than $5.9 billion.

Schovanec hopes this alliance will help to increase opportunity for those historically underserved by higher education.

"There are some really startling statistics that point to the lack of participation in higher ed by our Hispanic community. Only 6 percent of the U.S. doctoral students are Hispanic, and that has implications in terms of them eventually producing graduates that can move into professorial roles," Schovanec said. "As you capitalize on your distinction as an R1 Hispanic Serving Institution, you can have access to resources that have a much broader impact."

University of Texas at El Paso president and chair of the alliance Heather Wilson said she agrees.

"Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States and are now 17% of the workforce, yet they continue to be underrepresented in higher education," Wilson said. "No group is better positioned than we are to expand the pathway to opportunity."

The HSRU Alliance's first project, funded by the Mellon Foundation, is focused on supporting more Ph.D. students in Latino humanities studies and guiding them to academic careers. A second initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, expands opportunities for Hispanic students in computer science.

The alliance began during the pandemic through conversations and distance-enabled meetings among presidents and chancellors, coordinated by the University of Illinois Chicago. The effort took hold and grew into a determination to formalize the relationship announced Thursday, according to a news release from Tech.

In addition to Texas Tech, the universities in the alliance include:

  • Arizona State University

  • City University of New York Graduate Center

  • Florida International University

  • The University of Arizona

  • The University of New Mexico

  • The University of Texas at Arlington

  • The University of Texas at Austin

  • The University of Texas at El Paso

  • The University of Texas at San Antonio

  • University of California, Irvine

  • University of California, Riverside

  • University of California, Santa Barbara

  • University of California, Santa Cruz

  • University of Central Florida

  • University of Colorado, Denver

  • University of Houston

  • University of Illinois Chicago

  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas

  • University of North Texas

"It is a great group of universities, and I think it’s really something Tech should be proud of," Schovanec said.

The alliance can be found online at HSRU.org.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech joins universities nationwide to launch Hispanic opportunity alliance