UTEP Does Heavy Lifting in Conferring STEM Credentials to Latinos
June 19, 2015 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Infographic by Troy Tomberlin / UTEP News Service
In a report released by Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization based out of Washington, D.C., The University of Texas at El Paso is among the top two percent of all U.S. institutions teaching one-third of the Latinos who earn degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Ranked third in awarding bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to Latinos, UTEP was the only university on Excelencia's list that made the top five in STEM credentials at every degree level.
"Although UTEP is a regional institution, we are making a disproportionate contribution to the national priority of increasing diversity among STEM professionals at the highest level," said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. "We are punching way above our weight in contributing to the diversification of professions across the spectrum. Perhaps most importantly, our ranking among the top five STEM doctoral-degree-granting institutions reveals that UTEP is fulfilling our access and excellence mission at the highest educational levels."
In doctoral degrees awarded to Latinos in STEM fields, UTEP was ranked third among world-renowned institutions such as Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Davis and University of California at Irvine.
By placing third in master's degrees awarded to Latinos in STEM fields, UTEP is in good company among Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico, Florida International University, University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez and University of Southern California.
For bachelor's degrees awarded to Latinos in STEM fields, UTEP was again third after the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez and Florida International University. The University was ahead of other all other Texas institutions.
The report is based on 2013 data.
Even though the number of Latinos earning STEM credentials nationally increased by 74 percent between 2010 and 2013, they accounted for just nine percent of all STEM credentials earned. Latinos make up 17 percent of the total U.S. population and are projected to comprise approximately 31 percent of the population by 2060.
"UTEP's ranking in the report from Excelencia in Education is the result of a wide range of efforts from involvement of K-12 students in engaging STEM activities to involvement of undergraduate and graduate students in the excitement of discovery through research," said Natalia Villanueva Rosales, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science at the University. "UTEP has been integral in building a diverse and innovative workforce that is advancing Latinos(as) into high-paying, high-demand STEM professional occupations."
The University of Texas at El Paso's commitment to students in STEM fields, particularly those students who are low-income or first-generation, can be seen in the numerous programs designed to increase student access, retention and success. Some programs of note are the Program to Educate and Retain Students in STEM Tracks (PERSIST), a three-course freshman research sequence funded by a five-year Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant; and the A-PRIME-TIME initiative that helps students finish their undergraduate degrees and M.D.s in six years rather than eight.