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Grant To Help Hispanics Get Graduate Degrees

Published: January 15, 2015

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Education’s Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans Program, Hispanics will have more opportunities to attain graduate degrees. It has approved the CSULB project proposal for a grant totaling about $2.8 million over the next five years. The project, Hispanic Opportunities for Graduate Access and Retention (HOGAR), will be used to further post-baccalaureate opportunities for Hispanic and underprivileged students. It will develop the graduate program at CSULB, support student outreach and provide monetary support for recruitment and travel for graduate students. It will also provide funding and mentoring for faculty desiring to engage in grant writing and other scholarly work that includes graduate students.

Babette Benken, director of graduate studies in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is the principal investigator (PI) on the grant. She will collaboratively work with her co-PIs, Eric Marinez, Department of chemistry and Biochemistry; Rigoberto Rodriguez, Department of Chicano and Latino studies; and Nancy Hall Department of Linguistics. Zed Mason, former associate vice president for research and external support, will serve as the evaluator for the grant.

“This project will help to both expand and enhance CSULB’s graduate studies, which is a key component of the university’s strategic plan,” said Benken. “Through the development of the new Graduate Studies Resource Center and programs that support prospective and current students, Project HOGAR aims to increase enrollment and graduate student success at CSULB, particularly for Hispanic and underserved students. We hope that this project will propel a greater focus on graduate studies here at CSULB.”

For the first time in CSULB’s history, a Graduate Studies Resource Center will be established, which will serve as a central location to be used by all CSULB post-baccalaureate students in a dedicated space in the Peterson Hall 2 building. HOGAR will be developed to include comprehensive outreach programs for Hispanic and underserved students. The programs will enhance student engagement relating to graduate education and professional/career goals, facilitate graduate research/scholarship, grow cultural competency and scholarship excellence in faculty mentors, and develop the research infrastructure to support quality post-baccalaureate education.

CSULB is considered a Hispanic Serving Institution. It is ranked 11th nationally in awarding undergraduate degrees to Hispanics and 13th for underrepresented students generally. More than 35 percent of CSULB’s undergraduate student population is Hispanic. However, the graduate enrollment for Hispanics is significantly lower and the graduate program is relatively small (12 percent of total enrollment) compared to other universities, including other CSU campuses. HOGAR is designed to help continue and advance CSULB’s reputation as a research-driven university.

The five-year goals of HOGAR are to strengthen CSULB’s outreach efforts of Hispanic and underserved post-baccalaureate students by developing and implementing a comprehensive recruitment plan; to improve the experience and success of Hispanic and underserved post-baccalaureate students; to enhance the scholarship, research, and mentorship capacity of faculty to support Hispanic and underserved post-baccalaureate student success; and to improve CSULB’s graduate-level infrastructure to support Hispanic and underserved post-baccalaureate student success.

–Allison Huitt