15:43 PM

White House Recognizes UHD's Commitment to Latino Education

At the close of Hispanic Heritage Month 2015, Bill Flores, Ph.D., president of UHD, and Gene Preuss, Ph.D., special assistant to the president and associate professor of History, joined Hispanic leaders in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics' 25th anniversary.

UHD was one of 150 institutions to receive recognition for supporting the educational outcomes and advancements for the Latino community.

"We are extremely pleased the White House recognizes our success in providing educational opportunities for our Latino students," Flores said. "Our goal is to develop, recruit and retain quality STEM teachers, and this award acknowledges UHD's accomplishments and our plans for the future. It's an honor to be recognized nationally, as well as in our own city."

Flores continued, "Any invitation to the White House is exciting. We were joined by educators, community colleagues, activists, social workers, business leaders and journalists. We also had the opportunity to meet President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden."

At the Oct. 15 reception, President Barack Obama made an announcement applauding all participating organizations and their commitments to action with a collective investment of more than $335 million, which is expected to increase federal, state and local investments in high-quality education from cradle to career for the nation's Latino community.

UHD answered the initiative's call to action with its "Partnership to Prepare Bilingual Teachers with a Focus on STEM" program committing more than $1.5 million to train future bilingual elementary educators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. This project was created and implemented by Maria P. Bhattacharjee, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Urban Education, and Poonam (Gulati) Salhorta, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Natural Sciences.

President Obama spoke about how educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans have increased in the quarter-century since the initiative was created.

"So today, our country's high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, and it's powered in large part by dramatic gains among Hispanic students," President Obama said. The Hispanic high school dropout rate is down by more than 60 percent since the early '90s. ... The portion of Hispanic children in preschool is up by about 50 percent. The percentage with a bachelor's degree has nearly doubled. Math and reading scores have improved dramatically over the last decade. ... It's the kind of progress that we need to celebrate — the story of hardworking people, strong advocacy, coming together, lifting up not only the fortunes of a people but ultimately the entire country's fortunes. It's bending the arc of history to be fairer and more just."

For more information about this initiative and to view the full list of Commitments to Action, visit the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics