UI Latino numbers rise

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By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin

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The number of Latino students enrolled at the University of Iowa has continued to increase over the last five years. In 2010, around 1,099 were enrolled at the UI — that number has increased to approximately 2,000 students this year. Currently, Latino students make up 6.2 percent of the university’s enrollment. 

Brent Gage, the UI associate vice president for enrollment management, said he believes the growth in Latino enrollment is a combination of the changing demographics of the state and region, as well as the UI’s concerted efforts to recruit these students to the UI. 

“I’m really happy Latinos serve as the majority minority in the state of Iowa and Illinois,” said Claire Fox, director of the Latina/o studies program. “I’m not surprised that the numbers are going up, and I expect them to go up dramatically in the next decade or so.” 

Fox said she hopes the Latina/o studies program will keep the Latino students interested in the UI and wants the program to be the pull of attraction for Latino students. 

She said the university currently has a really strong set of Latino professors, but they would welcome more to the university, and the UI is looking forward to recruiting and retaining Latino faculty across all of the disciplines.

“One of the keys to success in recruiting and retaining Latino professors, is having well established Latino professors on campus already,” she said. “You’d want to go where you can feel like a community, I think that logic works for students and professors.”

According to the State Data Center of Iowa, the estimated Latino population for the state as of July, 1 2014, was 173,594 — making people of Latino origin the state’s largest minority.

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Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, said there is an upward national trend in the numbers of Latino student enrollment and graduation rates.

He said the upward trend is expected to continue because the average Latino population is younger than the rest of the nation.

“When you look at the cohorts of K-12 students who are enrolled in public schools across the country, the proportion of Hispanics is significantly growing compared to the rest,” he said “That’s just something that is expected to continue happening over many years.”

Flores said he does not expect the decrease of Mexican or Central American immigrants to the U.S. to affect the number of Latina/o students attending colleges across the nation because he said most of the growth in Latino population is not due to immigration but is caused by the fertility rates of Latinos in the country.

Gerardo Guerrero, public relations officer for the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead at the UI, said he believes a lot of Latino students are coming to the UI because more students are aware of how diverse the university is.

However, Guerrero said the university should be more engaged with the Latino community and international students at the UI.

“I would like to see for Orientation if we could have more Spanish speakers talk to certain families so the family could be more aware of what is offered on campus.” He said. “It will really be beneficial to those families whose family can’t speak English.”

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