From the Desk: IUPUC committed to providing opportunities for Latino students

In line with Indiana University's core values of diversity of community and ideas and respect for the dignity of others, as well as IUPUC's strategic initiative to foster a welcoming campus environment, Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus has increased outreach, recruitment and support of Latino students.

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IUPUC Vice Chancellor Reinhold Hill. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

The Latino population is growing in the region IUPUC serves. For example, 22 percent of Seymour Community Schools students identify as Latino, as do 13.6 percent of students in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.

As a result of our commitment to providing students with a diverse community and a welcoming campus environment, as well as promoting access and opportunity in our region, IUPUC has entered into several partnerships and activities in our area.

The IUPUC student organization Latino-American Organization of Volunteers in Education -- or LOVE -- was founded in 2014. The student club's purpose is to help, promote and motivate Hispanic/Latino community members to succeed and continue higher education. The club is organized with traditional student club officer positions and shares governance with its sister clubs at Ivy Tech Columbus and Purdue Polytechnic Columbus for its treasurer, vice president of community outreach and vice president of marketing roles.

Club members volunteer annually in numerous community and campus events focused on the needs of Latinos in Columbus and the region. The club also sponsors events on campus in connection with advocacy, cultural, enrollment and social themes.

Several of the student organization's leaders have also received scholarships for Latino students. IUPUC -- through the efforts of Matt Souza, special assistant to the vice chancellor for strategy and community relations -- collaborates closely with a private donor-advised fund at Heritage Fund, the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County to deliver scholarships to undocumented Latino graduates of Bartholomew County and regional high schools who choose to attend IUPUC, Ivy Tech Community College Columbus or Purdue Polytechnic Columbus.

Scholarships are available to graduates of Bartholomew County high schools who meet an academic performance standard, who were born in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua, and who possess Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals certification from the U.S. government. Scholarships were awarded for the 2017-18 academic year to 26 Latino students; 15 of these students attend IUPUC. The fund has supported more than 40 students since 2013; the average scholarship in 2017-18 is $3,300.

Two of the IUPUC scholarship students were recognized in the "Invest in the Dream Initiative: Scholarships and Support for Undocumented Students" report prepared and distributed by Educators 4 Fair Consideration.

In 2016-17, Tina and Tom Vujovich provided a gift to establish the Reach Your Dreams Scholarship through the IU Foundation for students at IUPUC. The scholarship provides funding for undocumented and/or specially documented Latino students who do not qualify for federal or state-based financial aid, graduated from an Indiana high school and are Bartholomew County residents. The generous Vujovich gift was matched 100 percent by the private donor-advised fund.

In 2017-18, IUPUC will lead a project to create a Latino Center on campus. The Latino Center will be a resource for students attending IUPUC, Ivy Tech Columbus and Purdue Polytechnic Columbus, and will be housed in one of the campus common facilities.

The Latino Center will have, as part of its mission, the opportunity to make the higher education campus more accessible and inspiriting to the rapidly growing Latino population in Columbus and the region served by IUPUC. IUPUC will fund a director for the Latino Center and will continue to collaborate with the Community Education Coalition, Ivy Tech Columbus and Purdue Polytechnic Columbus to develop the work of the Latino Center.

In the past academic year, for example, IUPUC collaborated with the Community Education Coalition Latino Education Group to host a ceremony honoring the Latino graduates of Columbus high schools and public post-secondary institutions. Several of the high school graduates recognized at the event are attending IUPUC in 2017-18.

In 2016-17, IUPUC was a planning leadership team member and contributor on a taskforce sponsored by the Community Education Coalition and Su Casa of Columbus. In 2017-18, IUPUC will participate in the implementation of plans to address:

  • Latino community fear of the threat of deportation.
  • Latino community safety from expressions of hate.
  • Enhancement of the immigrant Latino voice in the community.

We believe that these efforts will provide a welcoming and supportive campus environment that will prepare all of our students for success in a diverse society with greater understanding and respect for all.

Reinhold Hill is vice chancellor and dean of Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus. This "From the Desk" is part of a series featuring regional Indiana University leaders.