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HACU Member Advisory—April 13, 2005

Hispanic higher education community met April 3-5 in nation’s capitol

The leadership of the country’s Hispanic higher education community met on Capitol Hill April 3-5 to call for much needed federal funding for the nation’s colleges and universities that educate the country’s largest and fastest growing ethnic population.

“The Administration and Congress must provide resources necessary to our colleges and universities to educate more Hispanics to meet the nation’s workforce needs.  Hispanics will make up 1 of every 2 new workers by 2025 and must be better trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics than workers in the past.  Our nation’s policy-makers have a stake in supporting substantial new federal investments in Hispanic higher education,” said Antonio R. Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).

HACU’s 2005 Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education met at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Key leaders of Congress and the Administration spoke to Forum participants on the budgetary and national security needs of the nation.  Other speakers focused on demographic, legislative, technology and science-related issues and the importance for HSIs to establish and maintain partnerships with federal agencies.

U.S. Senator George Allen from Virginia addressed the audience on Senate bill S 196 (Minority-Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Network Technology Opportunity Act) and encouraged everyone to request his/her U.S. Senator to co-sponsor the bill that will provide new technology resources for Minority-Serving Institutions.  Senator Jeff Bingaman from New Mexico and Representative Ruben Hinojosa (Texas) held a press conference during the Forum to highlight the Next Generation HSI Bill (S 357 and HR 761) which will provide new resources for expanding and enhancing the graduate potential of HSIs.

Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) and Ken Salazar (Colorado) were featured speakers at a closing reception in the Hart Senate Office Building.  Hutchison, along with Bingaman, chairs the bipartisan Senate HSI Coalition, and Salazar is one of the first two Hispanic U.S. Senators elected last year.

Other keynote speakers included Sally Stroup, the Assistant Secretary for Post Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, who informed participants on the status of the HEA Reauthorization process and the Administration’s commitment to higher education.  Arden Bement, Director of the National Science Foundation,  and Tom Windham, NSF’s Senior Advisor for the Science and Engineering Workforce, highlighted the Agency’s effort to increase the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) capacity of the nation’s colleges and universities. 

 

The Ambassador from Spain to the United States, His Excellency Carlos Westendorp, praised HACU for its advocacy work on behalf of Hispanic-Serving Institutions and announced that the Spanish Embassy is committed to signing a Memorandum of Understanding with HACU to promote cultural and educational exchange between Spain and the U.S.

 

Speakers highlighted the need for HSI presidents, staff and supporters to contact their Congressional representatives on a regular basis to encourage them to increase support for HSIs.  Charles B. Reed, Chancellor and CEO of the California State University system, expressed support for the work of HACU and emphasized the need to expand educational opportunity to all groups and individuals in our society who aspire to an education beyond secondary school.

 

Michael Dunlap, CEO and Chairman of Nelnet, Inc., one of HACU’s corporate partners, addressed financial aid issues, and Philip Day, Chancellor of the City College of San Francisco, spoke on the National Articulation and Transfer Network.

 

Dale W. Moore, Chief of Staff to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, spoke on former Secretary Veneman’s support for HSIs and the new Secretary’s commitment as well.  Other speakers included: Lenora Gant, Director of the Intelligence Community Centers of Excellence for the CIA; Alison Griffin from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; Jane Oates, senior education advisor to the Senate Health, Education and Labor and Pension Committee; Frank Sharry, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum; Richard Fry from the Pew Hispanic Center; and Daniel Garza from the Office of Public Liaison for the White House.

 

We benefited from the expertise and perspective of sister organizations: the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Constantine Currie, the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s Jamie Merisotis, and American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s (AIHEC) Meg Goetz.

 

The visits to Capitol Hill, according to the HSI delegations, were highly productive.  More than 40 groups visited with Senators and Representatives from over 16 states to emphasize the growth of the nation’s Hispanic community and the importance of assuring this population access to a post secondary education to meet the professional workforce needs of the changing national and global economy.

 

In a debriefing session after the Capitol Hill visits, Forum participants thanked HACU for hosting the Forum and providing them the opportunity to learn more about legislative issues and the President’s FY 2006 budget recommendations now before Congress.  The participants also felt the Forum offered them a better insight to the legislative process and gave them new advocacy skills critical for meeting with policy makers at the national and state level.

 

Antonio Flores, President and CEO for HACU, expressed appreciation for the tremendous support from HSI presidents, staff, students and others in making the 2005 Capitol Forum a success.  He reminded the attendees that this Forum is only a first step in speaking to the 109th Congress and the Administration of the critical need to increase support for HSIs.  The Government Relations staff from the Washington D.C. HACU office will be in contact with all HSIs and supporters of HACU on a regular basis to request on-going support for HACU’s Legislative Agenda for FY 2006.

 

For more information on the Capitol Forum, visit http://www.hacu.net/.  For questions regarding this advisory, please contact Cynthia Vela at cvela@hacu.net.  HACU’s FY 2006 Legislative Agenda for the 1st Session of the 109th Congress is available on the HACU web site or by clicking HERE.

 

HACU Member Advisories are a service
of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.