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HACU Member Advisory--May 2, 2005

 

HACU testifies in support of “Next Generation HSI Act” at University of Texas-Pan American.

 

José Jaime Rivera, President of the University of the Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico, and Tomas Arciniega, President Emeritus of California State University, Bakersfield, testified at a Congressional Field Hearing called by Representative Patrick Tiberi (R) from Ohio, Chair of the Subcommittee on Select Education of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on May 2, 2005 in Edinburg, Texas. The Congressional Field Hearing focused on the “Expanding Opportunities for Graduate Study at Hispanic-Serving Institutions” bill (HR 761) introduced on February 20, 2005 by Congressman Ruben Hinojosa of Texas and co-sponsored by a bi-partisan group of more than 90 other U.S. representatives.  A companion bill (S 357) has also been introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.

 

In his testimony, Dr. Arciniega, past Chair of the HACU Governing Board and former president of California State University, Bakersfield for over 21 years, stated that “HR 761 brings a powerful new dimension to Title V of the Higher Education Act essential to the preparation of the future professional workforce for the nation.”

 

In addition to increasing authorized funding to $175 million for Title V undergraduate education, HR 761 will authorize $125 million in new spending on graduate education enhancements at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) beginning in federal fiscal year 2006. The graduate component of the HR 761 will establish a competitive grants program that will allow eligible HSIs to fund graduate fellowships and support services for graduate students, infrastructure improvements, faculty development, technology and distance education and collaborative arrangements with other institutions.

 

Dr. Rivera’s testimony underlined the importance of this proposed legislation for the nation’s workforce by noting that Hispanic Americans, already the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority group, are projected to account for one of every two new workers in the U.S. by 2025.  Although they continue to be dramatically under-represented in higher education, especially in graduate degree programs, about half of the Hispanic students in colleges and universities today attend HSIs.  “Targeting additional funding to this small but growing set of institutions is the most effective way to improve educational opportunity for Hispanics and assure an educated workforce for the nation,” Rivera said.

 

HR 761, as introduced, also includes three additional critical amendments to the HEA that will provide greater post secondary access and opportunity for Hispanics and other minority groups attending HSIs.

 

The bill will allow HSIs to use Title V grants to establish articulation agreements at the undergraduate level between two-year/four-year institutions and it will eliminate two unnecessary and onerous regulations impacting HSIs.  Title V grantees would no longer have to wait two years after completing one Title V grant before applying for a second. Elimination of the 50% low income assurance requirement for eligibility for Title V programs would remove a criterion not required of grant programs established for other Minority-Serving Institutions.  

 

Antonio Flores, President and CEO of HACU, who attended the Field Hearing, expressed strong optimism that the HR 761 will become a part of the HEA bill which is scheduled for reauthorization during the 109th Congress: “This bill is long overdue and absolutely critical. We have to increase the capacity of HSIs to offer graduate programs if we are to meet the country’s twenty-first century workforce needs.  Those needs will not be met unless Hispanics and other minorities have the opportunity to become exceptional leaders and professionals in the health and natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

 

Copies of Dr. Arciniega’s and Dr. Rivera’s testimony to the Subcommittee on Select Education of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce are available at http://www.hacu.net/.

 

Click here for a copy of Dr. Arciniega's testimony.

 

HACU Member Advisories are a service of the

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.