Eastern moves forward with more Latino recruitment initiatives

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

In the last 10 years, the number of Latino students at Eastern has increased by about 200.

In 2005, Eastern’s enrollment was 12,129, while the current number is 8,913, which is about a 26 percent drop in students.

As of fall 2014, the total enrollment of Latino students was 444.

Chris Dearth, the director of admissions, said Latino students have traditionally attended colleges and universities at a lower rate than Caucasian and African-American students.

However, Latino students outnumber any of the other ethnic minorities in K-12 public institutions. As of 2011, Latino students made up 24 percent of the enrollment in universities nationwide. In 2012, Latinos were the second largest minority group enrolled in colleges and universities at 38 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“Latino enrollment at Eastern could be hampered by the fact that we are in a more rural location and several hours from large urban areas,” Dearth said.

Dearth said many students in metropolitan areas tend to enroll at colleges closer to home because of the many options in cities.

“One of the strategies is to get more Latino students to visit earlier in their high school careers,” Dearth said. “We are outreaching to various high schools and community-based organizations.”

Dearth said Eastern might look into sponsoring transportation to the campus for open-house visits; he said many families in urban areas do not have access to their own vehicle, so assuming they can attend an open-house program is not wise. Dearth said the goal is to get them to campus and explain the benefits of higher education.

“When it comes to the recruitment of under-represented groups, it is always wise to continue to look to develop new recruitment avenues,” Dearth said. “We should always be asking, ‘What more can we do?’”

Dearth said in an effort to reach out more to Latino students, Eastern has made a brochure written in Spanish and hired two bilingual admissions representatives.

Aseret Gonzalez, a regional admissions counselor, said a committee called “Si, Se Puede” is in development that will focus on Latino recruitment and retention. She said the university started working on a variety of initiatives last fall and created action plans that will be proposed to the administration.

“Some of the action plans include involving Latino alumni in recruitment efforts, providing network opportunities for current Latino students as well as attending conferences,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said institutions nationally are doing a lot of research to address the recruitment and retention of Latino students. She said a lot depends on the student’s environment, and time will tell to what extent Eastern’s new recruitment efforts will attract more Latino students.

“If attending college is not promoted in the high schools or if the student’s home environment is lacking resources or knowledge of college, the likelihood of that student attending college is slim,” Gonzalez said.


Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]