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Freshmen class brings new diversity to campus

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Aug. 31, 2010 at 3:31 a.m.


Undergraduate diversity state-wide

The ethnic breakdown of undergraduate students state-wide is 50 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black, 7 percent Asian and 4 percent other.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The first freshmen class at the University of Houston - Victoria will bring a significant amount of diversity on campus with most new students identifying as Hispanic or black.

"Hopefully that's what we'll bring into the class - a student body that's reflective of our area...," said Denee Thomas, director of student recruitment and the Letting Education Achieve Dreams program.

Of the first 156 freshmen who registered for classes, 50 percent are Hispanic, 33 percent are white, 15 percent are black and 2 percent Asian and some other ethnicity.

The success in enrolling the underrepresented students can be attributed to targeted recruitment, bilingual staff and small-town appeal, UHV officials said.

"We made a promise that would intentionally target underrepresented groups to come to Victoria and we would target high schools throughout our region that don't normally get heavily recruited," said Tim Hudson, former president who was influential in the four-year effort.

Of the four UHV recruiters in Houston and San Antonio three are fluently bilingual. UHV recruiters who handle the Valley area also travel with at least one Spanish speaker.

Incoming freshmen also mentioned the location was just the right distance from home and price was a factor.

"I wanted to leave my mark somewhere," said Cruz Lopez, 18, a freshmen from San Antonio who mentioned the cost of school the No. 1 reason why he chose the school.

To help retain the diverse student body, the university has focused on hiring a diverse staff.

About 15 professors have been added to the School of Arts and Sciences, which is where most freshmen will take their core curriculum classes.

Many added to the ranks have been black and Hispanic.

"We wanted to give these students the best opportunity to succeed," said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "And bringing in faculty whose lives before college or during college might speak to the students who are enrolling is very important."

Overall, Thomas is satisfied with the effort and believes the trend of recruiting students who represent the state's diverse population will continue.

"To direct a recruiting effort it's a happy thing," she said. "I'm pleased that UHV has not tried to turn itself into something that it's not."

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