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April 26, 2007

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Celebrates its Heritage in Spain
ALCALÁ DE HENARES, SPAIN – The birthplace of Cervantes is a fitting place to celebrate one’s Hispanic heritage. It is even more fitting when the celebrant is the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), which convenes its seventh International Conference May 3-5, 2007, in this historic city northeast of Madrid.

The University of Alcalá, host site of the conference, is the only university in Spain designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Founded in 1499, it lays claim to a number of authors who defined Spain’s Golden Age of Literature, including the poet Francisco de Quevedo and playwrights Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina, who studied at the university. Today, recognized as one of the leading Spanish public institutions of higher learning, the University of Alcalá is one of 45 international members of HACU, which also counts more than 400 colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico among its membership.

“This is the first time that HACU is holding an international conference outside the Western Hemisphere,” said Dr. Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. “And we are certain that the rich culture of Alcalá and its surroundings will add to the success of our gathering.” 

The sessions planned in Spanish and English for the more than 175 expected attendees from Europe and the Americas address aspects of higher education and “La Hispanidad,” the Spanish term from which the word “Hispanic” evolved. Among them:

“Hispanidad: Identity and Integration,” presented by Professor Miguel Ayuso of the University of Comillas in Madrid and Visiting Professor at the University Autónoma de Guadalajara, Mexico;

“The Values of Hispanic Culture and the Role of Higher Education,” presented by Jorge Urrutia, writer, poet, translator and Academic Director of the Cervantes Institute, Madrid; and

“It Takes Two to Tango: Celebrate an Advising Connection with Hispanic Students,” presented by Susan Neste, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center for Academic Excellence, Angelo State University, Texas,

“HACU’s member colleges and universities are committed to promoting innovative ways to enhance international education,” said Dr. José Jaime Rivera, President of the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and chair of the HACU Governing Board, “and our shared Hispanic heritage provides a solid common foundation on which to build such efforts.”

HACU member colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico, while representing less than 10 percent of domestic institutions of higher learning, are home to nearly two thirds of the country’s 2 million Hispanic students. HACU-member campuses enroll more than 4.8 million students across the nation, which also makes HACU the voice of nearly one-third of the nation’s students.

Study abroad opportunities are a major focus of the conference. Hispanic students make up approximately 11 percent of the US postsecondary, but they are increasingly underrepresented in study abroad programs.  Each year, of the 170,000 American students studying abroad, only 5.4 percent are Hispanic.

The Embassy of Spain in the United States and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science are co-hosts of the event. Sodexho, the international food services and facilities management company, is sponsor of the welcoming dinner.

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