USF a haven for Hispanic workers

As USF strives to become a leading university, its constant battle to place high in various national polls has once again produced good results. Recently ranked in terms of numbers of new Hispanic faculty hired, USF placed 23rd in the rankings published last month in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. The publication used information gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics to determine which universities in the United States showed a trend of growth in numbers of Hispanic faculty and researchers.

USF has put forth effort in finding top quality Hispanic candidates for faculty position openings. A link to a listing of USF faculty openings can be found on The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Web site. This is a symbol of the University’s push to try to attract Hispanic faculty candidates.

“We have an infrastructure here (at USF) where we have a Latino association, a Latin community advisory committee and we have people in place who are providing the kind of climate that attracts Latinos to USF,” said Jose Hernandez, director of diversity and equal opportunity at USF.The national ranking reflects the administration’s commitment to placing Hispanic faculty in positions at USF.

“For these rankings, I give credit to our faculty who not only continue to believe strongly in diversity, but have worked extremely hard during searches to attract strong Hispanic colleagues to come to USF,” Provost Renu Khator said in a USF press release. “We are delighted to have a strong Hispanic faculty among us who, along with being inspiring educators, also provide wonderful role models for our students.”

USF and the surrounding community attract Hispanics for a number of reasons.

“I wanted to be at USF and I wanted to be in Tampa because I see USF as the future of education in Florida and I see USF as being a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic community,” said Hernandez, who came to USF in 2000. “I wanted to be part of that and help develop that community so that it will attract a diverse number of people.”

Madeline Camara, associate professor of Spanish at USF and columnist for The Miami Herald, offered a number of reasons why she decided to come to USF in 2002.

“My research is very linked to Florida and I used to come from California because I needed to use the archives in Miami,” said Camara, who was born and raised in Cuba. “So I was traveling constantly in the five years I spent in California. The second reason (I chose USF) is to be a part of the community of intellectual, exiled immigrants that is in Miami. Another important reason is my family is in Miami.”

USF was also ranked by numbers of Hispanic students receiving degrees by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. USF was ranked 32nd nationally for bachelors and masters degrees awarded to students of Hispanic ethnicity in 2004. The presence of Hispanic faculty is beneficial for these students.

“For a Hispanic/Latin professor, playing a good role model is not enough to effectively relate to students of the same origin. We need more faces and voices in order to create a new kind of dialogue in our universities,” Camara wrote in a column published in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.

According to Camara, the trend of an increase in Hispanic faculty at universities is “obviously going to continue because the Hispanic population is increasingly gaining weight in universities.”The increasing group of Hispanic faculty members at USF is likely to continue growing fast.

“We are pleased with the ranking,” said Dwayne Smith, vice provost for faculty and program development. “However, we have every intention of doing an even better job continuing our efforts to recruit first-rate Hispanic professors and researchers.”