Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Program Steering Latinos to Ph.D.s Gets Underway

The University of Pennsylvania Center for Minority Serving Institutions has announced its first cohort of students from Hispanic-serving institutions who will take part in the center’s new program, “HSI Pathways to the Professoriate.” The program, announced last year, seeks to increase the diversity of the college teaching profession by guiding Latino college students through graduate school and the acquisition of a Ph.D.

“We aren’t doing enough to diversify the professoriate — either through recruitment or retention — and the fact is that we have the tools available to us, we just need the will,” said Marybeth Gasman, director of the Center for Minority Serving Institutions, in a news release. “With HSI Pathways, we are showing that we have the will and role modeling that should be taking place throughout the nation. No excuses.”

As EWA’s Mikhail Zinshteyn explained for Higher Ed Beat, black and Latino students each make up about 6 percent of the population enrolled in doctoral programs. And according to 2014 study, more than a third of black and Latino students in Ph.D. programs quit after seven years. 

The Pathways program focuses specifically on the humanities field, given that not as much attention has been given to the discipline as STEM, for example, Gasman told U.S. News & World Report.

“The thing about the humanities is that they’re what teaches us to think critically,” she said. “They’re what pushes us to see the humanity in the world.”

The first cohort of 30 students has been selected from California State University, Northridge, Florida International University and the University of Texas at El Paso, where Latinos make up 42, 70 and 80 percent of the student population, respectively. Beginning this summer, they will take part in intensive research programs and cross-institutional conferences with faculty from prominent research institutions and also receive mentoring and support services as they continue to graduate school, according to the news release. 

The goal of the program is to guide 90 students from Hispanic-serving institutions into doctoral programs over a five-year period.