Toward diversity

Magazine ranks college 3rd in awarding
of architecture degrees to Hispanics

The Texas A&M College of Architecture ranks third, nationally, in the awarding of professional degrees in architecture to Hispanics, according to an article appearing in the May 2004 issue of “Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.” Additionally, the magazine lists the university among the nation's top 20 colleges for Hispanics and sixth in the awarding of doctoral degrees to Hispanics.

The College of Architecture’s success in attracting and retaining Hispanic students can be attributed, in part, to its “personal touch,” suggests Guillermo Vasquez de Velasco, the college’s dean for outreach.

“I believe the key to our success in this area can be found in the individual relationship that our faculty establishes with each student, and in the fact that we have achieved a critical mass of Latin American students who provide a robust peer support system within our student population,” Vasquez de Velasco said. “We are a big school that has not lost its personal touch. For Hispanic students that is a critical issue.”

As coordinator of the Las Americas Digital Research Network, Vasquez de Velasco has substantially contributed to the college’s outreach into Latin America. Headquartered in the College of Architecture, the network facilitates communication between many of the top design schools in the western hemisphere. Network participants include institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Additionally, through its Center for Housing and Urban Development and its management of the Colonias Program for the state of Texas, Vasquez de Velasco said the college has a relatively high profile in the predominately Hispanic Rio Grande Valley.

Last fall, the College of Architecture experienced a 26 percent increase in Hispanic enrollment in its freshman class.

“The college is making every effort to diversify its student population and welcome all underrepresented groups. While we have had some measure of success, we still have a long way to go,” said Mardelle Shepley, the college’s dean of student services. “We are making every effort to welcome all underrepresented groups, and plan to have an exemplary program in place in the coming year.”

Other A&M programs highly ranked by “Hispanic Outlook for Higher Education” for the awarding of professional degrees to Hispanics were agriculture (first), mathematics (fourth), veterinary medicine (sixth) and engineering (seventh). Earlier in the year, the publication ranked Texas A&M among the top institutions in the nation for the enrollment and awarding of bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic women.

— The End —

January 10, 2005

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