This week I attended the 23rd Annual Conference of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). I've been going to HACU conferences off and on for two decades.
At the Business meeting Sunday afternoon, I was elected to the Governing Board of HACU. This is a great honor, as I was nominated and elected to the position by fellow presidents.
HACU was formed to represent the interests of Hispanic Serving Institutions. At Monday's lunch, HACU recognized Dr. Max Castillo, former president of UHD, for his many years of service to HACU. He was also one of its founding members. HACU has grown to be one of the major higher education organizations in the nation. It now has 225 member universities (to be a member requires that at least 25% of student enrollment is Hispanic), over 100 associate members (colleges and universities with less than 25% Hispanic student enrollment), 49 international member universities, 57 corporate and agency partners, and 23 Hispanic Serving School Districts.
The U.S. Dept. of Education (USDE) provides special federal funding to eligible HSIs, and most federal agencies (such as USDA, DOI, DOE, and DOD) provide paid internship opportunities, co-ops, and specially-designated grants for HSIs. HACU has the largest internship program in the country. This year 680 interns will be placed with government agencies and corporate partners. HACU helped obtain funding for special programs, such as, Title V funding to support HSIs, including a new program which helps HSIs fund start-up costs for new graduate degree programs, especially in health care and STEM fields.
UHD is the only HSI in the UHD system. This is important because the University of Houston-Downtown is eligible for designated HSI grants or can be the lead organization in multi-university grants because of its HSI status. We are currently working with the UH System and the Vice Chancellor for Research to develop several multi-institutional grants with UHD as the lead partner.
The HACU annual meeting provides an important opportunity for colleges and universities to learn best practices, share experiences, network, and partner with corporate sponsors. During my trip I quickly reconnected with many old friends from New Mexico, California, New York, and Texas, as well as presidents, provosts, and deans from other institutions. I attended several workshops on recruitment, K-12 partnerships, work with first generation students, and STEM students. I also made contacts with several corporate sponsors that will be helpful to UHD.
In Spring 2010, UHD will host "HACU on the Road," where HACU representatives will come to Houston to showcase its work and programs. UHD will partner with local school districts, community colleges, four-year institutions, and CBOs like Houston Prep and Project Grad Houston, among others to host HACU.
HACU is a great organization and it's wonderful to be a member.