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Grant to Fund Study of Latinx Representation in Higher Education Leadership

By Chris Samoray

A two-year, $75,000 grant will fund a University of Maryland researcher’s study of a nationwide deficit of Latinx representation in research university administrations, a topic of growing relevance as colleges become increasingly diverse.

The Spencer Racial Equity Special Research Grant will support Associate Professor Michelle Espino of the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education, who is studying career pathways of Latinx individuals to senior and executive leadership positions at research-intensive Hispanic-Serving Institutions, defined as having 25% or more Hispanic students on campus.

Of some 1,500 higher education institutions surveyed in the United States, only about 4% percent are represented by a Latinx president, a percentage that has held steady for decades.

A major barrier to upper administration positions for Latinx faculty is the stepping-stone nature of the academic pathway, Espino said. According to the 2017 American Council on Education President Survey, most research university presidents are first provosts, which requires them to have served in tenured professorships, creating an often inaccessible route to senior academic administrative leadership for Latinx faculty.

“Now more than ever we need to have diverse leadership that has a variety of experiences and knowledge to be able to support the students we are attracting to our institutions,” Espino said.

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