AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin Department of Mathematics has been named the 2005 Example of Excelencia for its efforts to boost Latino participation, graduation and pursuit of teaching in mathematics.
The announcement was made in Washington, D.C. at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund Summit on the State of Latino Education.
“The development of Latino mathematics students is part of our larger responsibility for training associated with science and technology that any mathematical sciences department should assume,” says Dr. Efraim Armendariz, chair and professor of mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin. “If done conscientiously, all segments of society are incorporated. And that, I think, is what should be a hallmark of excellence.”
The latest data (2003-04) from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) indicate the Department of Mathematics graduated the most Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics in the nation. The department has consistently improved its ranking over the past several years, going from fifth (2001-02) to third (2002-03) among institutions in the nation awarding bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and statistics to Latino students.
“By engaging the country’s fastest-growing community in the pursuit of mathematics—a field vital to national interests—UT Austin’s Department of Mathematics has developed an integrated approach worthy of the attention of higher education officials nationwide,” says Sarita Brown, president and founder of Excelencia in Education.
Over the last decade, Hispanic enrollment in the Department of Mathematics has risen by three percent to 106. Concurrently, graduation rates for Latino students have risen over 60 percent producing 26 Hispanic baccalaureate degree holders in 2004, a growing percentage of whom have been entering the teaching field.
The department’s success is credited to key reforms that have been in place for some time. These include an Emerging Scholars Program in Mathematics that has enhanced academic success in mathematics and science for traditionally under-represented groups, and participation in UTeach, a teacher certification program in UT’s College of Natural Sciences set to address a statewide shortage of mathematics and science teachers.
“Examples of Excelencia,” a new program started by Excelencia in Education with support from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., highlights academic programs and departments that increase Latino success in higher education.
The new initiative seeks to increase the awareness of working models, programs and departments that boost Latino enrollment, performance and graduation in higher education at a time when the overall college-age population in the U.S. is changing rapidly. By 2025, 22 percent of the U.S. college-age population will be Hispanic, a level already reached in four states: California, Florida, New York and Texas.
For more information contact: Lee Clippard, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675.