The Majority in the Minority: Expanding the Representation of Latina/o Faculty, Administrators and Students in Higher Education (review)
- Journal of College Student Development
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 45, Number 2, March/April 2004
- pp. 253-255
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Journal of College Student Development 45.2 (2004) 253-255
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What are the difficulties encountered by Latino/a students in making the transition from high school to college, and what obstacles to success do they encounter once in college? What is it like to be one of very few Latino/a students in a graduate program, having no mentors who can truly relate to your background and cultural experience? What are the barriers to promotion and tenure that must be overcome by young Latino/a assistant professors? What does it take for a new Latino/a administrator to establish his or her credibility and leadership in a predominantly Anglo institution? And finally, what must we do to overcome the current under-representation of Latina/os at all levels of higher education? These and other questions are explored in this volume of essays by a diverse group of Latina/os in higher education.
As the editors state in the preface, "Latina/os are the fastest growing minority group in the United States," and one of every eight persons in the United States is of Latino descent. Yet, despite their growth in the general population, Latina/os remain underrepresented in higher education, and among all ethnic and racial groups have the lowest rate of college completion. The essays in this book are intended to provide an understanding of the underlying reasons for the under-representation of Latina/os at each level of higher education, and to recommend actions for those currently in the higher education power structure to take to remedy that under-representation. It should be noted that, unlike many other similar volumes, the focus of this book is not solely on Mexican Americans or Chicana/os, who are the largest Latina/o group, but includes all Latina/o populations.
The book is unique in that it includes essays by well-established scholars and administrators, newer professors who are negotiating the road to promotion and tenure, and graduate students who are preparing to enter the professorial pipeline. Each tells his or her own story, with the result that the accumulation of stories provides a vivid portrayal of the current state of Latina/os in American colleges and universities. But stories are not enough, and throughout the essays, especially those written by the more established authors, recommendations are included to address the problems that have been encountered by Latina/os trying to make their way through the labyrinth of higher education.
The book is organized in five parts, with the first part being a general overview and historical perspective of the Latina/o experience in higher education. The editors, Castellanos and Jones, provide demographic and higher education participation and achievement statistics, followed by a brief review of social and cultural variables unique to the Latina/o experience. Victoria-María MacDonald and Teresa García provide an excellent chronology of Latina/o access to higher education, concentrating on the [End Page 253] experience of Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans.
The three chapters in the second part of the book deal with aspects of higher education access and retention. Amaury Nora describes a "Model of Student Engagement" that identifies factors influencing persistence of Hispanic students in higher education. Alberta M. Gloria and Jeanett Castellanos investigate the factors influencing the differential experiences of Latina/os and African Americans in higher education. Guadalupe Anaya and Darnell G. Cole emphasize the importance to retention of student engagement with faculty and provide recommendations for promoting the interaction of students with faculty in a variety of settings outside of the classroom.
Two students take center stage in the third part of the book, describing their journeys away from home and into a new, and not always welcoming, environment. Raymond "Ramón" Herrera speaks with an unmistakable tone of bitterness about his struggles to prove...