CSU - Pueblo gets $2.8 million to expand graduate school access for Hispanic students

CSU - Pueblo gets $2.8 million to expand graduate school access for Hispanic students

PUEBLO – Colorado State University-Pueblo’s goal of increasing the number of Hispanics earning graduate degrees received a large boost this week with the announcement of a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

CSU-Pueblo was one of 22 institutions to receive a grant, funded under the Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans Program. The five-year grant will expand postbaccalaureate educational opportunities for and improve the academic attainment of Hispanic graduate students through enhanced program delivery methods and student services. Dr. Mel Druelinger, CSU-Pueblo dean of graduate studies and research, who led a team of graduate program directors in preparing the proposal, said the grant award will offer significant enhancements to the graduate programs.    

While CSU-Pueblo’s graduate enrollment has increased 38 percent since 2007, the enrollment growth has occurred almost exclusively among non-Hispanics. Hispanics represent just over 15 percent of all graduate enrollment compared to 21 percent in 2009. Just 27 percent of CSU-Pueblo’s Hispanic graduate students successfully completed a degree within three years.

Numerous causes exist for this gap. CSU-Pueblo graduate courses are offered in a traditional format, denying access to working students, who make up as much as 95 percent of enrollment in some graduate programs. CSU-Pueblo’s current technological infrastructure means limited courses are offered in flexible online or hybrid formats. Other obstacles to successful completion include difficulty with the graduate thesis and a general unfamiliarity with the demands of graduate school.

CSU-Pueblo graduate students also struggle financially, with 74 percent requiring need-based financial aid and most working while attending classes. Finally, the addition of specialized research lab instrumentation will allow CSU-Pueblo to provide more extensive community-based research, which can enhance the quality of the research experience, while providing resources for post-baccalaureate employment. This will benefit area communities with meaningful projects that address regional issues and enhance the quality of life in the region.   

This grant will address these obstacles by: 

  • Converting a host of courses across nursing, teacher education, business, and engineering courses to online and hybrid formats.
  • Increasing the amount of community-based research, particularly in the growing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries.  
  • Updating lab instrumentation to facilitate research opportunities and to support current research in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering.
  • Developing a Graduate Student Support Center and implementing a host of online and on-campus support services, including graduate student orientation, mentoring, research skills and presentation assistance, and writing assistance (including a technical writing course).
  • Growing Graduate Student Fellowships as well as graduate student travel funds.   

“CSU-Pueblo is a leading institution in Colorado with a vibrant and growing Hispanic population.  They’re doing amazing work, and this grant will allow them to encourage more participation by Hispanic students in graduate programs and to offer more scholarships and services,” said Congressman John Salazar. “The Hispanic community in Southern Colorado is growing, and we must work together to meet their educational needs.”

Other schools receiving the Postbaccalaureate Opportunities grants are:

California State University, Channel Islands
California State University, Dominguez Hills
California State University, Fullerton
Cal State University, Northridge, The University Corp, Eisner College of Education
California State University, Stanislaus
Nova Southeastern University Inc.
University of New Mexico
Northern New Mexico College
Eastern New Mexico University
CUNY - The City College
Bayamon Central University
Caribbean University, Bayamon Campus
Universidad Central del Caribe
Universidad del Este
Universidad Adventista De Las Antillas
The University of Texas at El Paso
University of Houston - Downtown
Texas A&M University, Kingsville
Texas A&M International University
University of the Incarnate Word

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.