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April 2, 2007

Hispanic higher education community met March 25-27 in nation’s capital

- The leadership of the country’s Hispanic higher education community met in Washington, DC, March 25-27, 2007 to call for much needed federal funding for the nation’s colleges and universities that educate Hispanics, the country’s largest and fastest-growing ethnic population. Distinguished speakers highlighted the need for Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) presidents, staff and supporters to contact their Congressional representatives on a regular basis to encourage them to increase support for HSIs.  The Forum culminated with Capitol Hill visits by the 170 attendees to push for greater federal investment in Hispanic higher education.

Antonio R. Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), challenged participants to encourage the Administration and Congress to provide colleges and universities educating Hispanics with the resources necessary to meet the changing workforce needs of the nation. Dr. Flores stated that Hispanics, which by 2025 will make up 1 of every 2 new workers in the U.S. economy, must be better trained in the expanding fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics than workers were in the past.  He asked attendees to remind Congress that everyone has a stake in assuring a highly educated workforce for the 21st Century.

Key leaders of Congress and the Administration spoke to Forum participants on budgetary and national security needs of the nation.  Other speakers focused on legislative, technology and science related issues and the importance for HSIs to establish and maintain partnerships with federal agencies.

U.S. Representatives Tom Udall (NM), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), Albert Wynn (MD), and Randy Forbes (VA) keynoted various sessions, addressing key issues, including appropriations, Higher Education Act reauthorization, the DREAM Act, and the Minority-Serving Institutions Wireless and Digital Technology Act., presented a number of federal outreach opportunities directed toward the Hispanic community.

Charles Conner, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Vice Admiral Papp, Chief of Staff from the Coast Guard; and the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, R. David Paulison, spoke of their agencies’ partnerships with HACU and outreach efforts to the Hispanic community.

Other speakers included Maria Flynn, from the U.S. Department of Labor; Kathleen Leos, Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education; Cora Marrett, Assistant Director with the National Science Foundation; Peter McPherson, President of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC); Ellen Riddleberger of McAllister & Quinn; John Trasviña of MALDEF; and Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez of the Maryland General Assembly.

Rita Jaramillo, from the National Education Association, and Luis Maldonado, from the Council on Foundations, prepped participants for their Capitol Hill visits and the HACU Government Relations team walked them through this year’s Legislative Agenda.

The visits to Capitol Hill, according to the HSI delegations, were highly productive.  More than 40 group visits with Senators and Representatives from over 16 states emphasized the growth of the nation’s Hispanic community and the importance of assuring this population access to postsecondary education to meet the workforce needs of a changing economy both in the U.S. and abroad.

Key issues in the legislative visits included Title V appropriations, the Next Generation HSI Act and DREAM Act legislation pending in Congress.  Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the Farm Bill, and No Child Left Behind are also important focal points of HACU’s 2007 Legislative Agenda.

Antonio Flores, HACU’s President and CEO, expressed appreciation for the tremendous support from member presidents, staff, students and supporters in making the 2007 Capitol Forum an important and successful opportunity to make the case for Hispanic education before Congress. The Government Relations staff in HACU’s Washington, DC, office will be in contact with HACU’s membership on a regular basis to organize on-going support for the HACU Legislative Agenda for FY 2008.

For more information on the 2007 HACU Capitol Forum, refer to

A copy of the HACU 2007 Legislative Agenda for the 1st Session of the 110th Congress is available on the HACU Web site.