MCLR - 1994 Roundtable


Presented By:

Refugio I. Rochin, Michigan State University


In the experimental hard sciences--chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, computer science, and engineering--there is limited Latino representation scattered throughout the Midwest. The same is true for the applied sciences, such as medicine, social work, and public helath and for mathematics and the theoretical sciences. Centers of science in the Midwest employ more Hispanic scholars from abroad than Latinos born in thc U.S., who often find jobs outside of academia. In addition to factors blocking Latino employment in higher education, there is great concern that we are not able to present mathematics and science as attractive fields to U.S. born youth, including non-Latinos.

There are several major obstacles to the professional development of adequate Latino representation on the science faculties of Midwestern universities. One is getting recognition for the work of Latino scholars in the traditional tenure-track system. The scientific magazines that publish in Spanish are not valued for tenure and promotions. Scientific journals have shrunk, thus increasing competition. Latino scientists should have the option of publishing in Spanish, but are discouraged from doing so by their institutions. Publishing in ethnic studies journals is also discouraged.

The absence of a strong science education pipeline from the lower grades to the universities contributes to the scarcity of Latino faculty. The holes are numerous The hands-on experience is critical to the formation of a K-12 pipeline, However, it is expensive to get laboratory setups in high schools and community colleges where Latinos go to school. There is limited mentoring and support for low-income Latinos and few role models. The science field is a god-father system-without a mentor, advancement is virtually impossible. The few Latino students in the sciences receive lower economic incentives to enter academia than to enter the private sector.

Two other factors weaken the pipeline and professional development of a strong corps of Latino faculty. One is that renowned scientists are elitists who are not contributing to outreach and the mentoring of Latino students. The other is the hiring by universities of scientists trained abroad. While this practice is not objectionable in itself and is even desirable in tlle proper context, it is often used to misrepresent achievements in afirmative action and to bypass the more difficult task of looking to Latino neighborhoods for future scholars.


The mathematics and science group recommends the following measures to improve the professinal development of Latino faculties:

  • Concerted efforts need to be made to address the scarcity of domestic Latino scientists. MCLR should lead the way.

  • Development of the K-12 pipeline. All scientists should be encouraged to mentor or contribute to the education of Latino students.

  • Organization of recruitment programs to target schools that produce talented Latino students.

  • Creation of centers of excellence in the sciences through the collaborative efforts of MCLR member institutions to overcome otherwise prohibitive costs.

  • Creation of programs to combat the lack of interest in science as a social problem due to the lack of incentives and home environments.
     Return to MCLR Home Page
    Last Updated: March 11, 1996