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Lamar leads nation in graduate education degrees to Hispanics

Lamar University led the nation in the number of graduate degrees in education awarded to Hispanics during 2010.

The university graduated 342 Hispanics during the year, according to The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, a national magazine dedicated to exploring issues related to Hispanics in higher education.

“In the field of education, Lamar University in Texas led the pack, awarding the most master’s and doctoral degrees to Hispanics,” wrote Mary Ann Cooper, special projects editor for the magazine. Lamar was one of seven Texas schools on the Top 25 list of graduate degrees in education conferred.

“This is clearly good news for Lamar University because we have identified and captured a demographic slice of the state that previously has not been available to Lamar University,” said Kevin Smith, Lamar’s senior associate provost. “It is great news.”

In response to the ranking, Hollis Lowery-Moore, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, said: “Lamar University’s educator preparation programs are implementing recruiting plans to expand outreach to Hispanic populations in our undergraduate as well as master’s and doctoral degree programs. It is our hope that our students in the online master’s degree programs will be pleased with their interactions with Lamar University and encourage students in their districts and schools to take a good look at Lamar University as a college choice.”

A graphic in the April 4 edition of Hispanic Outlook shows Lamar awarded a total of 2,662 graduate degrees in education during 2010 – 645 to men and 2,017 to women. LU awarded 342 graduate degrees in education to Hispanics in 2010 – 261 to women and 81 to men.

Hispanics accounted for 13 percent of Lamar’s graduate degrees in education, the magazine reported.

“We are very delighted because of how Lamar has been embraced by the population of Hispanic graduate students,” Smith said. “This provides a great opportunity for the university to move into these districts and these communities and recruit other graduate students, as well as undergraduate students. We have done that and have seen a dramatic growth in the Hispanic undergraduate numbers.”

Smith emphasized that the ranking is “solely a function of the reach of our Academic Partnership program,” which “has allowed Lamar to be present throughout the state of Texas, which, of course, includes areas of large populations of Hispanic graduate students, particularly those who are certified teachers and school administrators in districts with which we partner.

“Because of the accessibility and the affordability of the program, this has been a hugely successful option for Hispanic graduate students. Lamar is a school of choice in online graduate education.”

The Academic Partnership has been in place at Lamar since 2007, conferring more than 4,500 graduate degrees in education. “We’re proud of the fact we were pathfinders, so to speak, in online education for students in Texas,” said Jason Mixon, assistant dean for academic partnerships and outreach.

“We push to incorporate all areas of Texas,” Mixon said. “As a matter of fact, we are in 211 of the 254 counties and are excited about the opportunity to take the college to their homes instead of their coming to the college.”

Aware that minimal numbers of the Hispanic population were becoming administrators, Mixon said, Lamar set out to make the advanced degrees in administration and teacher leadership available. “We’re glad to be part of that process and possibly solve that need,” he said.

These are other universities in the Top 10: National University in California (313), Nova Southeastern University in Florida (284), the University of Texas at El Paso (250), Touro College in New York (242), Azusa Pacific University in California (203), California State University-Los Angeles (186), the University of Texas-Pan American (185), Northern Arizona University (169) and California State University-Northridge (163).

“We’re extremely excited to see that we’re providing an opportunity for our Hispanic population because we know this is the fastest-growing population in Texas,” Mixon said. “We made a concerted effort to attract more students but also a strategic effort in going beyond places like Houston and Austin. If you have an online degree, you can reach the rural counties – the areas we normally would not have access to.

“The accessibility was there, and we were able to make it affordable. People have obviously taken advantage of that.”

Other Texas universities on the Top 25 list are the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas International University and the University of Texas at Brownsville. California had the most schools, eight; New York, four; and Arizona and Florida, two each. Illinois and Massachusetts has one each. Education graduate programs continue to be dominated by females, the magazine reported, and Hispanic females outnumbered Hispanic males in all 25 schools listed.

Hispanic Outlook derives data from various lists compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics and its Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), according to the article.

“We’re proud of it because anytime we’re at the top of a ranking – particularly a ranking based on IPEDS data – we’re pleased,” Smith said. “It’s good, solid stuff. Credit has to go to the College of Education and Human Development, to Dean Hollis Lowery-Moore and those who work closely with the online program. They have done a masterful job of developing and presenting a program that’s attractive to the Hispanic community.”

Pointing to demographics, Smith noted that the Hispanic population is about 14 percent in Jefferson County, 36 percent in Texas and 15 percent in the United States. Orange County is 5 percent Hispanic, he said, and Hardin County is 4 percent. They join Jefferson as Lamar University’s primary market counties.

“We are several giant steps below the rest of the state of Texas in the percentage of the Hispanic citizens. So for us to rank No. 1 truly means that our reach is well beyond Jefferson County,” Smith said.

Said Mixon: “I think we’re feeling the benefits not only in the master’s program but in the undergraduate program as well. It’s nice to know we are meeting a need in Texas in reference to our number of Hispanic graduates.”

Lowery-Moore cites the first line in the college’s mission statement:

“The College of Education and Human Development provides a quality education to a diverse student population from Southeast Texas and beyond, resulting in education and human service professionals who are prepared to meet the challenges of a dynamic global environment.”

“Faculty and staff in the college work hard to live this mission,” she said. “Our outreach through online programming is one example of these efforts.”