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Hispanic enrollment a 'half-full glass,' president says

San Antonio (Sept. 8, 2003) — The president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, in San Antonio Monday to help kick off a celebration of Hispanic heritage at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC), said a 60,000-student increase in Hispanic enrollment at Texas public universities over an eight-year period shows "the glass is half full and we are seeing progress." But he cautioned that "we must not let budgetary challenges divert us from what we need to do."

Rumaldo Z. Juarez, Ph.D., also said the Health Science Center is a "prime example of what can be accomplished" when institutions think creatively to serve the Hispanic community. He said UTHSC's initiative to establish the Regional Academic Health Center campuses at Harlingen and Edinburg will be especially significant. "This commitment by the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio will go down in history as one of the most significant factors to improve health conditions in the Lower Rio Grande Valley," Dr. Juarez said.

Hispanic enrollment in Texas public higher education increased 37 percent between 1993 and 2001, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, but at current rates, this growth will fall short of a 2005 target for measuring progress under the Coordinating Board's Closing the Gaps plan, which calls for enrolling 500,000 additional students in Texas public higher education by 2015.

Dr. Juarez visited with Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., Health Science Center president, about the potential for collaborations between A&M-Kingsville and UTHSC. "We are grateful for leaders such as Dr. Juarez, who share our vision for partnerships that will benefit health professions education and promote health in our region, state and nation," Dr. Cigarroa said.

Contact: Will Sansom