UTPA named leader in addressing the needs of nontraditional students
Posted: 06/02/2009
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The University of Texas-Pan American has been recognized for exemplary leadership in addressing the needs of Latino and other nontraditional students in a report released today. The report shows that the success of America's future workforce depends on the ability of higher education institutions to adapt to and well-educate the rapidly growing population of nontraditional students.

"Leading in a Changing America: Presidential Perspectives from Hispanic-Serving Institutions," authored by Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate higher education success for Latino students, documents the exemplary leadership of a select group of Hispanic-Serving Institutions - institutions that enroll large numbers of nontraditional college students and are on the front lines of the changing higher education landscape.

The University of Texas-Pan American was among the 12 Hispanic-Serving Institutions recognized for their leadership in this new report.

"One thing these institutions all share is a culture where Latino students are welcomed as an asset and not considered a liability because they have different needs and circumstances than traditional college students," said Deborah Santiago, Vice President for Policy and Research for Excelencia and author of the report. "This kind of supportive environment is ultimately critical to promoting Latino student success."

The report defines nontraditional students as low-income, first-generation, part-time, commuting, ethnically diverse and older. Most Hispanic students can be classified as nontraditional. Traditional students are predominately white, financially dependent on their parents and enroll full-time in college immediately after high school graduation.

Research shows that from 1980 to 2007, nontraditional student representation increased 194 percent, while traditional student representation increased only 18 percent.

The group of minority students with the largest increase in college enrollment is Hispanics, with more than 300 percent more Hispanic students enrolled in 2007 than in 1980. Census projections estimate that Hispanics will be 22 percent of the nation's college-age population by 2020.

"Today's undergraduate population is very different than it was a generation ago," said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. "The institutional leaders we interviewed are adjusting to these changes by finding innovative ways to serve more students with limited resources."

The full report is available at: