The new frontier in education: Dr. Vistasp M. Karbhari, president of the University of Texas at Arlington wants Latinos to not only get a higher education, but to succeed.

Author:Jaime, Kristian

As Hispanic students now enter college in unprecedented numbers, the changing demographics of education are diversifying exponentially.

States like Texas, where college enrollment by Latinos in Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) is at record levels, the focus is also on completion rates. The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), under the leadership of university president Dr. Vistasp M. Karbhari, is no exception.

"We are situated in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that is growing in population and economic wealth. There is also tremendous growth in terms of Hispanic students," said Dr. Karbhari.

The influx of traditional students from high schools across the country is now just one of the avenues where their estimated 39,000 plus students emerge. Online learners from around the world now push the total of degree-seeking individuals at UTA to a whopping 57,000.

That easily makes it one of the largest universities in the Lone Star State. But it is not just about the numbers as much as it is reaching all segments of the population.

"We think of ourselves as a twenty-first century urban research university," continued Dr. Karbhari. "We have traditional students, but more and more we have students that come to us from a two-year community college, returning adults coming back to education and veterans returning for a degree."

Maximum Impact

The former provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at The University of Alabama in Huntsville also served as professor and vice chairman of the Structural Engineering Department at The University of California in San Diego. Although his academic career has made him a journeyman of sorts, it all started in India.

Following his bachelor's and master's degrees from The University of Poona, his doctoral work and eventual Ph.D. led him to matriculate at The University of Delaware.

"I asked where I could make the maximum impact with the work I'm doing," Dr Karbhari said. "As a researcher and [educator], I could do research that could [change] the world and still be able to mentor students in a positive way than I could in the corporate world. I also love to teach and I wanted to see that light switch on in students."

It was not long before the successor to UTA president James Spaniolo found his calling in the classroom and with the emerging luminaries-in-training through mentoring. One would assume with so many years in academia, the pressures of publishing and grant writing...

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