Juan Sanchez Munoz, Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President for Institutional Diversity Equity, and Community Engagement and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs at Texas Tech University. He has also served on the President's Administrative Council, Provost's Staff, Dean's Council, Academic Council, Strategic Planning Council, Strategic Enrollment Planning Council, and is the Chair of the Texas Tech University System's Outreach and Engagement System Priority.
From those angles, Munoz is poised to comment on the dilemmas and solutions that face the Latino student population --not only at Texas Tech, where there is a 24 percent Latino student body and a faculty that is approximately 7 percent Hispanic--but also at colleges and universities across the country. Even at a glance, it is obvious that Latino involvement in higher education needs to improve. "When we look across the country and those locations with larger populations and urban centers, we have seen significant growth in the Latino community," Munoz said.
So how does a university get to a point where Latino students not only enroll in universities, but also stay there and graduate with an undergraduate or graduate degree?
Munoz says preparing Latino students for higher education can be greatly improved through the help of faculty and mentors throughout the arch of a student's life.
In many instances of a successful undergraduate Latino student, Munoz says there is a faculty member who made a significant impact on that student's life.
"Without faculty to encourage success, [Latino] students often don't complete," Munoz explained.
One way the Vice President is addressing that issue at Texas Tech is through a university mentoring program, in which freshman students are paired with mentors who share in that student's academic or long-term professional career. The university currently provides mentors for hundreds of students.
"A significant number of the students in our mentoring program are Latinos, and first-generation college students, and we create a climate of high academic expectations and support services that mitigate moments when they find themselves discouraged," he said. "They hear from other first-generation college students in the third or fourth year and are given suggestions and help."
Another hurdle for many Latino college students are the financial resources required to apply, enroll, and complete a...