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*Conference scheduled Oct. 26-29 in Denver, Colorado
*Keynote speakers include U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige
*Also featured: Career Fair, Leadership Institute

DENVER, Colorado - Hispanic education and workplace trends will be the focus of the 16th Annual Conference of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) October 26-29 at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Denver, Colorado. Issues impacting the nation's youngest and largest ethnic population will also include the latest demographic and public policy trends.

More than 1,500 educators, advocates and public policymakers will join corporate, community and student leaders from throughout the Americas at a national conference that also has become an international platform for promoting Hispanic higher education and workforce diversity in a global economy.

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige is among the keynote speakers scheduled to address a conference that also will feature a free Career Fair, daily workshops, international plenary sessions and a lively Town Hall meeting on current events. Also scheduled are discussions on HACU's Legislative Agenda, which this year is calling for record new federal spending increases on Hispanic education initiatives that will impact minority students from kindergarten through graduate school.

"HACU's 16th Annual Conference will be a convergence of ideas and issues that will impact all of us in the effort to build a better future, which will only come true if we embrace education access, equity and success for all Americans," said HACU President and CEO Antonio Flores. "To accomplish this goal, we must engage our national leaders in the public and private sectors to address this challenge, share ideas and forge new partnerships in support of Hispanic higher education success. HACU's annual conferences have become an important national platform for accomplishing these goals."

Hispanics became the nation's largest minority population as of the 2000 Census. Hispanic population growth surged nearly 60 percent between 1990 and 2000. Already by 1998, Hispanic school-aged children had become the largest group of minority school children in the United States. Hispanics, with a median age of 26.4 years, are also the youngest population group -nine years younger than the median age for the general population overall.

"Unfortunately, Hispanics also continue to suffer disproportionately low high school and college completion rates, and historically high poverty rates. At the same time, our nation's economic strength and security will depend on the knowledge, skills and leadership of a population that already makes up one of three new workers joining the U.S. labor force today. These challenges create a compelling agenda for HACU's 16th Annual Conference," Flores said.

HACU represents 330 colleges and universities serving the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students in the United States. Hundreds of those students will attend the conference, which will provide them unique networking opportunities and a national platform for addressing current events, youth leadership development and career outlook issues.

Sponsors include telecommunications giant AT&T, Coors Brewing Co., AT&T Broadband, the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, University of Colorado System, Capital One, Hispanic Magazine, Philip Morris Companies Inc., U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State Farm Insurance Companies, TIAA-CREF, U.S. Army, Eastman Kodak, Educational Testing Service, Hispanic Network Magazine, U.S. Department of Commerce, Miller Brewing Company, Shell Oil Company, Office of Surface Mining of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Farm Credit Administration, and Towers Perrin.

Exhibitors at HACU's 16th Annual Conference will include many of the nation's best-known corporations, government agencies, higher education institutions and associations. Among featured exhibitors will be Lockheed Martin, AT&T, the American Red Cross, The College Board, the Smithsonian Institution, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Boy Scouts of America, Internal Revenue Service, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

International issues ranging from study-abroad opportunities to the impact of terrorism on the global higher education arena will be the focus of special international sessions at HACU's 16th Annual Conference. The conference also will be the site for an inaugural HACU Latino Higher Education Leadership Institute, which will focus on the under-representation of Hispanics at every level of the higher education career ladder. A pre-conference Youth Leadership Day for Colorado high school students will feature sessions on the importance of obtaining a college degree, as well as leadership development workshops and how-to information on financial aid and other topics.

Daily workshops will focus on issues ranging from Hispanic higher education recruitment and retention to immigration, financial aid trends, science, technology, demographic trends, economic outlook topics, model programs, K-12 outreach, mentoring and public/private sector partnerships. Special awards will be presented to individuals, corporations and government agencies for championing Hispanic higher education success.

About HACU

The formal mission of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization, is: to promote the development of member colleges and universities; improve access to and the quality of postsecondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students; and, to meet the needs of business, industry and government through the development and sharing of resources, information and expertise. HACU's more than 330 member and partner colleges and universities collectively serve more than two-thirds of all Hispanic higher education students. The reach of HACU and its member institutions also extends to pre-collegiate outreach, workforce development projects and lifelong education initiatives. The HACU National Internship Program is the nation's largest Hispanic college internship program

For more information, contact HACU at (210) 692-3805. Ext. 3214. Or visit