To the Editor:
The article “Diversity on the Rise Among College Presidents,” addressing the recent increase in the proportion of members from racial minority groups who have been hired as college and university presidents and chancellors in the past year and a half, is encouraging.
We at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) are especially pleased to see the recent uptick in the percentage of Hispanics hired in these high-ranking positions. However, while we are hopeful about a changing trend in the hiring of more diverse candidates for leadership roles at our colleges and universities, we also are wary about any tendency to assume that the tide has turned regarding the hiring of Hispanics as presidents and chancellors.
Because of the need for a concerted effort to prepare a more diverse pool of talented leaders at colleges and universities, in 2019, we launched an impactful leadership development program: the HACU Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo. We will soon have the fourth cohort and believe that we are making important headway for Hispanics to excel in moving up the administrative ladder in higher education and at Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
To date, four of our former fellows are leading either a research-intensive university that also has a medical school, a regional comprehensive institution, a private liberal arts college, and a community college. In addition, over half (56.6 percent) of the individuals who have participated in our program are female. Thus, we are making important progress in moving past the dreadful 3.9 percentage of Hispanics serving as presidents and chancellors in our colleges and universities reported in 2016
But we also acknowledge that further progress requires redoubling current efforts to identify and prepare a diverse talent pool from which search committees can select the leaders of their institutions. It takes a collaborative effort to successfully change past trends so that we have more presidents and CEOs to reflect the fast-growing Hispanic student population, which is nearly 20 percent of the more than 19 million college students nationwide.
Thank you for your coverage of this pressing issue.
--Antonio R. Flores
President and CEO of HACU