The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced today the selection of Michele Bobadilla as chair of its new University Partnerships initiative. Bobadilla serves as assistant provost for Hispanic student success and senior associate vice president for outreach services and community engagement at The University of Texas at Arlington.
The initiative's goal is to build a robust college-to-career pipeline between Hispanic-Serving Institutions, like UTA, and the corporations who partner with the Foundation, resulting in enhanced career readiness for students and an immediately employable talent pool for various industries.
"The initial focus of University Partnerships will be to identify strong regional matches between universities, community colleges, and businesses working with Hispanic chambers of commerce across the state, and begin to network the entities and leverage shared resources," Bobadilla said. "There are multiple reasons why UTA is the right institution to spearhead this effort."
The University of Texas at Arlington serves more Hispanic students than any other four-year public university in North Texas. UTA is one of only 10 universities in the nation to achieve the designation of both Hispanic-Serving Institution and R-1: Highest Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Bobadilla said she will immediately begin working with industry leaders to cultivate paid internship and real experiential learning opportunities. "Internships are critical for career success and must be paid in order for students, many of whom are first generation and working their way through college, to be able to afford the opportunity," she said.
Troy Johnson, UTA's vice president of enrollment management said, "For UTA to be asked to spearhead this effort by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation is proof of the pivotal role we're playing to ensure that America's students are career and workforce ready. The University Partnerships initiative will allow universities to nimbly answer the workforce needs of students and employers."
Johnson will act as an adviser on the initiative, as will Linda Battles, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board deputy commissioner and chief operating officer. THECB board member Arcilia Acosta will co-chair the initiative with Bobadilla.
"The University Partnerships initiative aligns perfectly with 60x30TX," said Acosta. "We've set a goal for at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 to have a certificate or a degree by 2030. We must accomplish this in order to fill the labor demands of industries in our state. We will not be able to arrive at that attainment goal if we don't focus on our Hispanic students and ensure they have multiple pathways for obtaining postsecondary degrees and credentials."
Only 25 percent of Latinos in Texas ages 25-34 currently have a postsecondary degree or certificate.
"Our 60x30TX plan is ambitious, but attainable, especially if higher education and the business community work more closely together than ever before," Battles said. "The University Partnerships initiative directly addresses two goals of the plan - marketable skills and student debt - which are clearly in line with our larger goal of a more educated workforce. This will result in a distinct competitive advantage for Texas."
Nina Vaca, chair of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, added, "I am so proud that the USHCC Foundation has embarked on this legacy initiative with two such distinguished partners. With Texas as our launching point, our goal is to expand the University Partnerships initiative nationwide and to include as many university and corporate partnerships as possible. Our ultimate vision is to permanently impact the career trajectories of the next generation of Hispanic entrepreneurs and corporate leaders."