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Member Advisory--May 14, 2007

 HACU praises passage of HR 1867 National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007

For the first time, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) have been prominently included in the National Science Foundation (NSF) reauthorization bill for 2007 thanks to the advocacy efforts of HACU, its membership and the many HACU friends on the Hill.

The NSF Reauthorization bill (HR 1867), passed 399-17 by the House on May 2, 2007, includes language that authorizes NSF to establish a new program to award grants to HSIs to enhance the quality of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering and technology education at HSIs and to increase the retention and graduation rates of students pursuing associate or baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

Representatives McNerney (D-CA), Giffords (D-AZ) and Crowley (D-NY) were the major sponsors of the amendment. In addition, Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced legislative language that directs the NSF to enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences for a report to be transmitted to Congress that will identify barriers impeding minorities from entering the STEM areas and outlining new initiatives for increasing their participation in STEM areas.

HR 1867 directs NSF to report to Congress on how the nation's higher education system will prepare minority students attending Hispanic-Serving Institutions and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) to become the STEM leaders for the nation's science and technology efforts.  The report will also address the role of MSIs in the diversification of America's workforce in these fields and how that role can be supported and strengthened. U.S. Census data reports that minorities are slated to constitute 50% of the nation's college-age population by the middle of this century and will be expected to fill the jobs being vacated by the baby boomers. Without greater preparation of minorities in the STEM areas, the nation will not maintain its leadership role in areas of vital importance to the welfare and security of America

These new provisions are key to the development of a stronger partnership between HSIs and NSF for the benefit of the faculty and the many students enrolled in these institutions.  Our membership is encouraged to send a letter of appreciation to their U.S. representative thanking them for supporting HR 1867 and especially the HSI amendments.