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 San Antonio, Texas - A new task force of leading experts in advanced science education outreach to minority college students has been formed to address the need to increase the ranks of Hispanics in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

With a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) has appointed 12 top educators from HACU-member colleges and universities in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona and Puerto Rico to form the NSF/HACU Task Force for the National Study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

The goals of the study are:
Assess the major barriers to Hispanic undergraduate and graduate students successfully completing their STEM degrees.
Assess the status of U.S. Hispanic STEM faculty at HSIs.
Assess STEM research and Technology infrastructure at HSIs.
Assess STEM research, education, and training programs designed to attract, train, and retain Hispanic students and faculty.
Strengthen the NSF-HACU-HSI partnership

The broad impact of the national study will be felt in various areas
Identification of infrastructure, faculty, and student preparation needs at HSIs.
Strategies and recommendations to guide the NSF, HACU, and HSIs in the fields of STEM education and research.
Creation of baseline data on STEM education at HSIs for Hispanic students and faculty.
Creation of an initial network of NSF-experienced Hispanic faculty and administrators.
Development of a database of research and training programs and opportunities for Hispanic students and faculty that will be shared with HSIs and Hispanic students and faculty.

The HACU/NSF task force met in San Antonio, Texas, in May and again in August to study current barriers to Hispanic success in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields of study.

“The caliber of this prestigious task force, coupled with their wide experience in serving large Hispanic student populations at their respective higher education institutions, will surely lead to an effective response to the national crisis we face in the lack of diversity in these professions,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio Flores.

Hispanics make up the youngest and largest ethnic population in this country; one of every three new workers joining the U.S. work force today is Hispanic. Yet, Hispanics also suffer the lowest high school and college graduation rates of any major population group, exacerbating already historically low Hispanic representation in STEM professions demanding advanced degrees.

Two nationally renowned educators were selected to head the task force: Task Force Chair Dr. Gustavo Roig, Associate Dean of Engineering at Florida International University; and Vice Chair Dr. Maria Elena Zavala, Professor of Biology, California State University-Northridge.

Other task force members are:
Dr. Richard Aló, Executive Director, Center for Computational Science and Advanced Distributed Simulation, University of Houston-Downtown
Dr. Humberto Cañate, Associate Professor, Mathematics, Hostos Community College, City University of New York
Dr. Eugene Chudnovsky, Distinguished Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York
Dr. Sergio Garcia, Professor, Miami-Dade College, Inter American Campus
Dr. Mario J. González, Vice Chancellor for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of Texas-Austin
Dr. Elizabeth Kreston, Assistant Professor, Mathematics, University of the Incarnate Word (Texas)
Dr. Leticia Marquez-Magaña, Associate Professor, Biology, San Francisco State University
Laura Parr, Professor, Psychology, Del Mar College (Texas)
Reynaldo Rivera, Professor, Science/Mathematics, Estrella Mountain Community College (Arizona)
Dr. Gary Toranzos, Professor, Biology, University of Puerto Rico

“Each of the task force members also has expertise in working with the National Science Foundation, which makes this new task force uniquely positioned to address the complex factors impacting educational under-representation of Hispanics in STEM fields,” said HACU Director of Program Collaboratives Rene A. Gonzalez, who is coordinating the task force’s efforts.

For more information, contact Rene A. Gonzalez, HACU Director of Program Collaboratives, at HACU’s national headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, at (210) 692-3805, Ext. 3223, or by email at ragonzalez@hacu.net. For more information about HACU, visit www.hacu.net.