Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
March 21, 1997

Campus Latinos form group to promote unity

Association includes faculty, staff and students

by Steve Sullivan
Iowa State's Latino community has formed an organization to promote the welfare and unity of Latino faculty, staff and students.

The Latino Faculty and Staff Association grew out of informal discussions, said Hector Avalos, assistant professor of religious studies and director of the Latino Studies Program.

"We started meeting monthly to talk about issues and problems we share as Latino faculty and staff at ISU," Avalos said. "We want to improve our environment so Latino faculty, staff and students can succeed and become a more visible part of the community."

The association's strategic plan "affirms that the promotion of the welfare and unity of the Latino community at Iowa State is integral to the goal of becoming the best land-grant institution in the country."

The strategic plan addresses recruitment and retention of Latino faculty, staff and students, increased visibility of the accomplishments of Iowa State's Latinos, contributions of Latino culture to campus life and further development of the Latino Studies program.

Latinos are the fastest growing population in the country. Currently, there are approximately 70 Latino faculty and staff and 400 students at Iowa State. In 1992, there were 43 faculty and staff and 326 students.

To recruit and retain Latino faculty and staff, the group recommends nominating Latinos for university positions, putting them on search committees, increasing their research opportunities, assisting them in the tenure process and promoting their accomplishments.

In terms of students, the strategic plan promotes high school recruitment visits and more mentoring by Latino faculty and staff and increased involvement in promoting Latino culture on campus.

While Iowa State's Latino student population has shown steady growth, the university needs to do a better job of recruiting and retaining Latino students, Avalos said. One answer is more scholarships targeted specifically for these students, he said.

The growth of the Latino Studies program has been a positive sign for the university's Latino population, Avalos said. The program started in 1994 with 12 students and now, about 100 students, mostly non-Latinos, are taking courses in the program. An English course on Latino literature will be added to the program in spring 1998.

A new Latino student group, the ISU Latino Council, also has received official recognition from the university. Like the faculty/staff group, the student organization grew out of informal meetings of ISU's Latino community.

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