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Northwestern Partners With Penn to Increase Latino Professors

Mellon Foundation grant to prepare Latino/a students for Ph.D. programs over five-year period

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January 28, 2016 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University will partner with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) as one of five Research 1 (RI) institutions participating in a new program to increase the number of Latino/a professors in the humanities at colleges and universities in the United States.

Launched by the Penn Center for MSIs, Pathways to the Professoriate is supported by a $5.1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program will prepare 90 students from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) for Ph.D. programs over a five-year period.

The program’s launch comes as colleges and universities across the U.S. are trying to develop a faculty that reflects the nation’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity. The scarcity of Latino/a professors is especially stark. Latinos/as make up 20 percent of the population aged 18-44, but only 4.1 percent of the professoriate in the U.S. 

“HSI-PATHWAYS aligns extremely well with institutional goals and strategies well underway at Northwestern,” said Daniel Linzer, Northwestern University provost. “We appreciate the opportunity to join in this important work and are committed to continuing to enhance our efforts toward creating a more diverse and inclusive Northwestern.”

The number of graduate students identifying as Hispanic increased from 248 to 660 between 2004 to 2013, a 3.5 percentage point increase in representation from amongst the domestic student population (4.3 percent to 7.8 percent). Sixteen percent of this fall’s entering Ph.D. cohort in The Graduate School at Northwestern will be underrepresented minority students -- an unprecedented high for the University.

“We firmly believe that there can be no truly excellent environment for the training of scholars and practitioners unless that environment includes diverse individuals, with diverse intellectual interests, and from diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” Linzer said.

During the five-year program, the Center for MSIs will partner with three Hispanic-Serving Institutions -- Florida International University; the University of Texas El Paso; and California State University, Northridge -- and five research institutions, including Northwestern; New York University; University of California-Berkeley; University of Pennsylvania; and University of California-Davis.

Selected HSI undergraduate students will take part in intensive summer research programs and cross-institutional conferences, while also receiving mentoring and support for applying to and enrolling in graduate school.

At Northwestern, a graduate coordinator from The Graduate School will work with site coordinators from Hispanic-Serving Institutions and students on their applications and housing and financial support packages and help ensure students are fully engaged in campus life. Students also will have the benefit of working with faculty mentors on research development. Some Northwestern faculty mentors also will participate in the intensive summer research program and the Cross-Institutional Conference in which students present the research they have completed since entering the program. 

“Diversity and inclusion rest at the heart of our institutional values and strategic priorities,” said Jabbar R. Bennett, associate provost for diversity and inclusion at Northwestern. “President Morton Schapiro has repeatedly identified diversity and inclusion in our community as one of his top priorities.

“We are extremely pleased to work with Professor Marybeth Gasman at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions and the other university partners to improve pathways for students from HSIs to R1 graduate study in the humanities,” Bennett said.

Topics: University News