Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Michigan University Expands Outreach to Latino Students

Only three percent of students attending Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, Mich., are Latino. But however small the population may be, those 452 students still represent a priority to the university.

Ferris is pushing forward with efforts to better serve Hispanic students and community members. This week, Ferris is opening a new Center for Latino Studies, which aims to reach out to Latinos with education and leadership opportunities. University officials hope that it will grow into a home base or somewhat of a student union for Hispanic students and those interested in Latino issues.

Tony Baker, the center’s executive director, is also a sociology professor and a member of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education. The center will pursue partnerships in the Grand Rapids community.

Baker said one initiative that the university is pursuing to better connect with local Latinos will place Ferris education students as mentors at Union High School, a local school which has a large Hispanic population. The goal is to mentor potential future bilingual and ESL teachers, he said.

“We need to do more to create a pipeline of teachers that can serve a diverse student body,” Baker told MLive. 

The university also recently launched the Latino Business and Economic Development Center, which seeks to provide support to Latino small-business owners in the region.

The initiatives are part of a push to reach out to Hispanics in western Michigan and to encourage them to pursue higher education.

What similar efforts are colleges and universities in your community making to connect with Latinos? Are the efforts successful?