President Flores Testifies at U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Briefing
UHD President Bill Flores prepares to testify at a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights briefing on Thursday in Washington, D.C. He is joined by Deborah Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy at Excelencia in Education.
Bill Flores, Ph.D., president of the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and secretary of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) board of directors, testifies today at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights briefing in Washington, D.C.
The briefing will highlight the effect of college access, persistence and completion rates on the socioeconomic mobility of minorities. Flores will address the importance of Pell Grants, work-study funds and other federal financial aid options that increase college attainment, especially for Hispanics and African-Americans. Flores plans to underscore the vital foundation of a college degree on the economic success of students - including minorities - and the barriers faced by minorities in accessing higher education.
Given the low rate of Hispanic adult educational attainment, many Hispanics are "first generation" students - or the first in their families to attend college. Because of this, these students are unfamiliar with collegiate expectations and opportunities for advising, financial aid and other support systems on campus. Also, according to HACU, Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanics to be low income, meaning that many must work and maintain family responsibilities while attending college. For this reason, many Hispanic students are more likely to attend nearby community colleges than four-year universities.
Flores joins several prominent university chancellors and administrators, national nonprofit leaders and government officials in testifying at the two-day briefing.
In addition to UHD, institutions and organizations represented at the event include Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Michigan, the University System of Maryland, Cal State-Fullerton, Louisiana State University, the U.S. Department of Education, Pew Trusts, Excelencia in Education, the National Science Foundation, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Brookings Institute and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, among others.