Richard Greene

How UT Arlington rose to the top of colleges serving Hispanic students

Sometimes lost in all the focus on the need for immigration reform is the opportunity for Hispanics to earn college degrees across a broad spectrum of career preparation.

While not limited to those entering our country from our Southern borders, UT Arlington has emerged as one of the top 100 colleges for Hispanic students, according to The Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine.

Nationally ranked in three categories, UT Arlington comes in at No. 5 in architecture degrees, No. 24 in total graduate degrees and No. 26 in total enrollment.

In a recent news release from the school’s communications office, this data demonstrate’s the latest recognition of its long-standing commitment to serving Hispanic students. In 2014, the Arlington-based university became the largest public four-year school in Texas to meet the U. S. Department of Education requirements to be labeled as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Michele Bobadilla, assistant provost for Hispanic student success explains: “UTA offers our students world-class, global opportunities, exposure to diverse communities and viewpoints and a prime location within our country’s economic engine marketplace.”

The university is also part of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s University Partnership Initiative, led by Bobadilla. The initiative’s goal is to build a robust college-to-career pipeline between UTA and the corporations that partner with the foundation, resulting in enhanced career-readiness for students and an immediately employable talent pool for various industries.

Bobadilla was named to her role with the foundation last year. Accompanying the announcement she explained its mission: “The initial focus of University Partnerships will be to identify strong regional matches between universities, community colleges, and businesses working with Hispanic chambers of commerce across the state, and begin to network the entities and leverage shared resources. There are multiple reasons why UTA is the right institution to spearhead this effort.”

She is working with industry leaders on providing paid internships and experiential learning opportunities. Compensation from the internships provides opportunities that students, many of whom are first generation and working their way through college, might not otherwise be able to afford.

Her appointment came at the same time the university identified a total student population expected to exceed 60,000 and emphasized its commitment in partnership with community and industry leaders, focused on developing career-ready graduates.

While some Hispanic students will return to their home countries to pursue their careers, UT Arlington’s records identify 220,000-plus alumni, with about 65 percent living in North Texas. Their presence helps the university create an annual economic impact of almost $17 billion in the region.

Furthering the focus on such an outcome, the university’s website explains in this summary statement:

“The North Texas economy reaps the benefits of the University’s focus on fostering discovery and cultivating entrepreneurship. Engaged faculty, staff, and students embody a collaborative spirit that helps UTA change the trajectory of thousands of lives each year by aiding populations in need, improving health care, managing our natural resources, creating more livable communities, and harnessing the proliferation of data.”

Hispanics make up about 32 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment and more than 16 percent in graduate programs earning masters and doctoral degrees.

Considering how often the news seems to focus on controversy and political wrangling among candidates at practically all levels of government, it’s worth a few minutes to remind us that our country was built with labor and intellect from the world over.

UT Arlington is a premier institution preparing students from every state and more than 100 countries to ensure our best days are the ones that lie ahead.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor, served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and lectures at UT Arlington.